They might not know it, but three dogs now living in Ottawa have managed to escape with their lives.

They are among a group of 50 dogs that last week were rescued from a dog meat farm in South Korea.

A rescue team from Humane Society International travelled to South Korea to convince the farmer to stop breeding dogs for meat, and relinquish the dogs he had.

Most were shipped to shelters in the U.S. But three, an adult female named Cinta and two puppies dubbed Sophie and Sally, were given into the foster care of Ottawa-based Freedom Dog Rescue.

Three dogs with a second chance at life, halfway around the world.

“It’s an amazing, incredible story. One that’s hard to fathom,” says the dog’s foster caregiver, Amber Westfall.

Their new environs are a far cry from what they endured in Korea. They were among hundreds of animals kept in small, wire-bottomed cages – exposed to the elements, neglected and mistreated.

“Because of these conditions these dogs suffer constantly from the day they’re born up until the day they end up in a slaughterhouse,” says Andrew Plumbly with the Montreal office of Humane Society International, and a member of the rescue team. “The conditions are so extreme that actually some of our staff started crying when they saw them.”

The problem is pervasive in Korea. “At the moment about two and a half million animals, dogs rather, are consumed every year in Korea. All of these dogs are raised in intensive factory-style farms,” says Plumbly.

He acknowledges that eating dog meat has deep roots in some cultures. But he says tradition is no excuse for animal cruelty. And there is growing pressure to end the dog meat trade within Korea as well as without. In addition to rescuing the dogs, Humane Society International also tries to work with the farmer to transition them into other farming practises.

Plumbly plans to return to South Korea in April to arrange the transfer of 200 other dogs rescued from the farm.

Meanwhile back in Canada, Cinta, Sophie and Sally will likely stay in foster care for at least a few weeks before eventually moving on to their forever homes.