Meet Tori: South Korea’s “First Dog” is a bold animal rights statement

South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in has adopted a dog from an animal sanctuary.

In most places, this wouldn’t be a big deal, but in South Korea, the announcement is a significant step in support of animal rights.  The Blue House, which is the president’s official residence in Seoul, made the announcement on Facebook this week.

Animal rights group Coexistence of Animal Rights on Earth, or CARE, rescued the pooch named Tori in 2015.

“Before his rescue, Tori was kept on a short leash in a deserted farmhouse and fed scraps,” the group said in a statement. “The old man who was keeping him abused him severely. We rescued Tori only days before being sold to a dog meat butcher.”

CARE presented the mutt to the president.

AJ Garcia and So Youn Park, president of CARE, presents Tori to the president. The Blue House/Facebook

The official handover was hugely symbolic.

Tori looks pretty happy in the arms of AJ Garcia and So Youn Park, president of CARE, presents him to the country’s president. The Blue House/Facebook

That’s because CARE had trouble finding an owner for the now 4-year-old pooch because of his black fur.

Discrimination against dark-coloured pets is rampant in South Korea.

“Unfortunately, Tori languished for 2 years in the adoption center while the other lighter-furred pure-bred residents were adopted before him,” CARE said. “In South Korea there is a preference for white or cream colored pure-bred dogs, coupled with a superstition surrounding dark colored and mixed breed dogs.”

During the presidential campaign, Moon said he would adopt Tori if he won.

“My family and I anticipate the day we can welcome Tori as a new family member and will make sure he adjusts well to the new environment,” he said at the time.

Tori waits to become First Dog of South Korea. CARE/Facebook

He also pledged to make the country a more hospitable place for animals. He promised to create more playgrounds for pets, feeding facilities for stray cats, and expand a spay and neuter program. He also said he’d work to phase out the dog meat trade, though gave no deadline.

He was sworn into office May 10 and this week, made good on his adoption pledge.


The president also has another dog as well as a cat.

We’ll be sure to follow President Moon’s progress on his animal welfare promises.

Photos The Blue House/Facebook

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Recovering newspaper reporter.

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