GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn. (KARE 11) -- Several Olympians have been getting national attention this week for what they did after the Games.
They decided to bring something home from Pyeongchang, Korea: A pet. And it’s bringing more attention to the controversial dog-meat trade.
American skier Gus Kenworthy and snowboarder Maddie Mastro are just two of several Olympians who traveled outside the Olympic Village to visit one of Korea's 17,000 dog-meat farms.
They’ve gotten plenty of attention from their social posts – showing off their new furry family member. But it’s also reignited the debate over the consumption of dog meat.
Korea is one of several countries where dogs are raised for food. It's been part of their culture -- a longtime tradition. Many will argue it's not our place to impose Western ideals: We see dogs as pets, not our next meal.
But others say it's not that – it’s how these animals are treated.
Many dogs are malnourished, physically abused, and crammed into tiny, wire-floored pens. Again, many will say this is the same way we treat cows, pigs, and chickens here in the United States.
But it’s one cultural practice in particular that brings the debate into the gray: Putting a live dog into a pot of boiling water is believed to give the meat healing, medicinal properties.
But, the tide is changing. In Korea, the government now offers money to restaurants if they stop serving dog meat. Korean President Moon Jae has even adopted a dog saved from a meat farm. But it's that deep-seeded tradition that keeps the country from officially outlawing the practice.
The demand for dog meat is decreasing dramatically, with a younger generation turning away from the practice. The hope is that the practice will end on its own.
In Minnesota, nearly 200 dogs have made the trek from Korea since 2015. The Golden Valley Humane Society and Secondhand Hounds are rescues groups that bring these dogs here, and they're always in need of a good home.