Music mogul Simon Cowell is supporting animal charity Humane Society International's bid to close down a dog meat farm in South Korea and rescue the more than 200 dogs and puppies caged inside who would otherwise be killed and eaten.

The dogs spend their entire lives in small, barren metal cages but HSI, which has so far permanently closed down twelve dog meat farms and saved nearly 1,400 dogs, are desperate to close it with Simon’s help.

Eating dog meat is fast declining in popularity in South Korea particularly among younger consumers. However, thousands of dog factory farms still exist, breeding around 2.5 million dogs a year for human consumption. Humane Society International works with dog meat farmers who want to leave the dying industry, and helps them switch to more humane alternative livelihoods such as mushroom or chili growing. The charity hopes its successful model will encourage the Korean government to adopt the phase-out plan and expand it nationwide to end the industry for good.

This isn’t the first time Simon Cowell has supported HSI’s #EndDogMeat campaign. Last year he gave an exclusive interview to Good Morning Britain on the eve of HSI’s rescue team setting off for Seoul on another rescue mission. He was incredibly moved by the plight of dogs suffering on the farms, and pledged to help directly to bring more dogs to safety.

Simon told GMB’s Pip Tomson: “It’s like eating your friend. It’s the fact you’re eating such a kind, helpless, sweet animal.”

And Simon’s sentiments are increasingly echoed by campaigners in South Korea who are vociferously opposing killing dogs for meat. In July a petition on the government’s website calling for an end to the trade was signed by more than 200,000 people and prompted an official response from the President’s office. The government pledged to consider removing dogs from the legal definition of livestock, a move that could make a significant dent in the brutal industry.

Humane Society International hopes to deploy a rescue team as early as next week to start closing the farm. Most of the dogs will fly to Canada to be cared for at HSI’s shelter there, but the charity also hopes to be able to bring a small number to the UK to look for forever homes.

HSI UK Executive Director Claire Bass says: “Simon’s generous donation means the world to us, and provides a huge boost to our appeal to close this horrendous dog meat farm. More than 200 dogs are languishing in the most appalling conditions, but we have a real chance to save them. With every dog farm we close and every farmer we help switch to a more profitable, humane business, we’re showing the South Korean government that it’s possible to end this cruel trade. These poor dogs have had the worst lives so far, so we’re desperate to get them out of those dreadful cages and show them love, soft beds and loving arms for the first time in their lives.”

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