You only have to look at the splayed paws of the four dogs who recently arrived at Benton-Franklin Humane Society to understand why they freaked a little when they stepped onto a green lawn.
“It was a real joy to see them experience (grass) for the first time,” said Elaine Allison, the agency’s operations director. “All they’ve ever known is a wire crate.”
Recently rescued from a dog meat farm in South Korea, the four Tosa Inus, or Japanese mastiffs, were among 103 brought to the United States for adoption.
Until then, the pooches were given names that reflect their new “leash” on life — Notta Burger, No Pho, Veggie Dawg and Princess Tofutti.
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They are 5 months to 2 years old and weigh as much as 100 pounds, short of the 160 pounds that some of that breed weigh.
But it’ll be weeks before the dogs are ready to go to their future homes because they are still in quarantine and will have to spend time in doggie school working on socialization and obedience skills with prisoners at the Coyote Ridge Corrections Center in Connell.
But Allison said there has been a lot of interest in them already, and she is confident they will make great companions for their future owners.
Humane Society International has undertaken a campaign to shut down South Korean dog meat farms by approaching the owners and offering to help them get started in other areas of farming. The latest rescue came about after they convinced the owner to farm rice instead.
Of the 103 dogs and puppies rescued this time, a number were Tosa Inus, but there were also spaniel and Korean Jindo mixes and Chihuahuas. Tosa Inus are considered “meat dogs” in South Korea where dog meat is used in some dishes, said a release from Humane Society International.
The canines arrived in the U.S. at San Francisco and have been dispersed to shelters across the West.
Tosa Inus can be aggressive if not properly trained but Allison said these dogs are docile. However, they will require a lot of training so that they can be good pets. They’ve never been on a leash, don’t really respond to commands and never had a toy.
They could be ready to go to their permanent homes as early as late November or early December if they respond well to training at the prison.
Allison didn’t release how many adoption applications have already been filed for the dogs but one came recently after some law enforcement officers were investigating a trespassing incident near the shelter on Seventh Avenue.
“They wanted to see the dogs, so we brought them out,” Allison said. “Now one of the officers wants to adopt Notta Burger.”
Anyone interested in adopting the dogs or another animal from the Benton-Franklin Humane Society can call 509-374-4235 for more information. The shelter is at 1736 E. Seventh Ave. in Kennewick and is open seven days a week but with varying hours.