Nearly 100 people flocked Thursday to the Sacramento SPCA for a chance to adopt six dogs, including four jindo puppies, rescued from a South Korean meat farm.
Before the SPCA opened for business at 11 a.m., a line of 40 people formed to adopt the dogs on a first-come, first-serve basis. Brandon Lum and Nora Lopez were first in line, waking up at the crack of dawn for the opportunity.
The Sacramento couple was ushered in and quickly matched with Hayden, a male jindo described by handlers as “dominant” and a “bully.”
“We just happen to be lucky,” Lum said, saying he thought others would already be in line at 5 a.m. when they arrived.
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Before the adoption event, the jindos were playing with toys and walking around, visibly excited. They have responded much better to the new environment than six older dogs brought to Sacramento from South Korea, said Rick Johnson, SPCA chief executive officer.
Besides the jindos, a Chihuahua and a poodle mix from South Korea were available for adoption Thursday but found no takers.
“The Chihuahua and poodle is available,” SPCA webmaster Wendy Meyer told a crowd of people waiting to see the jindos. “I can’t say that enough. They need homes.”
Jeannie Biskup, chief operations officer, said she was saddened by the public’s reaction, noting that the two 7-year-old dogs had been through much more than the 3-month-old puppies.
“These dogs have had seven years of that life,” Biskup said. “They are just as deserving.”
The 10 dogs at the Sacramento SPCA are part of a contingent of 57 dogs sent to California after being rescued from a rural South Korean dog meat farm. The dogs were kept in close quarters in a dark barn and fed animal carcasses.
Humane Society International paid the farmer about $33,000 to transition to crops. In some South Korean circles, dog meat is considered a delicacy, although the custom of eating dogs is not mainstream.
The Sacramento SPCA is the first organization to put the South Korean dogs up for adoption. Four older dogs in the care of the Sacramento SPCA will be placed in foster homes because they need more time to adjust, Johnson said.
SPCA officials had hoped the South Korean rescue would draw attention to the shelter’s other residents. But it appeared the public had their sights only on the jindos.
In addition to the four jindo puppies, the SPCA adopted out four adult dogs and two cats, which Johnson described as “typical” for a Thursday.
“We’re hoping to get more people on the weekend,” he said.
Hayden initially didn’t respond to his new owners. When Lum reached to embrace him, he walked away, sniffing the chain-link fence.
“He’s the bully of the group. His escalation level grows very quickly,” warned Dan Marple, animal services manager.
While jindos are rare in the United States, they are commonplace in Korea. The fiercely loyal hunting dogs often possess temperament issues and grow to more than 50 pounds.
Long Nguyen wasn’t deterred. Third in line, Nguyen adopted Riley, a female jindo puppy.
“She’s just like the picture,” Nguyen said. “That first smile – sold.”