US Olympic skier Gus Kenworthy might not be bringing a gold medal back from the 2018 Winter Olympics, but he's not coming home empty handed.
The Olympian took to Instagram Friday to announce he and boyfriend Matthew Wilkas visited a dog meat farm, where dogs are raised to be eaten. The post shows many dogs in cramped, cold outdoor cages, as well as one puppy — which they adopted and named "Beemo" — that is coming back to the United States with them.
This morning Matt and I had a heart-wrenching visited to one of the 17,000 dog farms here in South Korea," Kenworthy wrote on the social media post. "Across the country there are 2.5 million dogs being raised for food in some of the most disturbing conditions imaginable."
Dogs are friends. Not food. pic.twitter.com/3wgx2oS2qv— Gus Kenworthy (@guskenworthy) February 23, 2018
Yes, there is an argument to be made that eating dogs is a part of Korean culture. And, while don't personally agree with it, I do agree that it's not my place to impose western ideals on the people here," he continued. "The way these animals are being treated, however, is completely inhumane and culture should never be a scapegoat for cruelty."
"I was told that the dogs on this particular farm were kept in 'good conditions' by comparison to other farms. The dogs here are malnourished and physically abused, crammed into tiny wire-floored pens, and exposed to the freezing winter elements and scorching summer conditions. When it comes time to put one down it is done so in front of the other dogs by means of electrocution sometimes taking up to 20 agonizing minutes."
"Despite the beliefs of the Korean public at large, these dogs are no different from the ones we call pets back home. Some of them were even pets at one time and were stolen or found and sold into the dog meat trade."
The farm Kenworthy and Wilkas visited is in the process of being shut down, according to Entertainment Weekly, with the help of the Humane Society International, which aims to end the dog farm industry altogether. The 90 dogs on the farm in Siheung, South Korea will be brought to the US and Canada so they can find a new home.1comments
"I adopted the sweet baby in the first pic (we named her Beemo) and she'll be coming to the US to live with me as soon as she's through with her vaccinations in a short couple of weeks," Kenworthy wrote. "I cannot wait to give her the best life possible! There are still millions of dogs here in need of help though (like the Great Pyrenees in the 2nd pic who was truly the sweetest dog ever). I'm hoping to use this visit as an opportunity to raise awareness to the inhumanity of the dog meat trade here in Korea and the plight of dogs everywhere, including back home in the US where millions of dogs are in need of loving homes!"
Kenworthy previously rescued five strays in Sochi during the 2014 Winter Olympics, where he won a silver medal for freestyle skiing. The skier made headlines during the Pyeonchang Olympics after sharing a kiss with Wilkas ahead of his competition.