WESTAMPTON, N.J. (WPVI) --A Burlington County animal shelter is working to save dozens of dogs from facing a cruel fate overseas.
Isabella, Jane and Merlin are three dogs currently being cared for at the Burlington County Animal Shelter in Westampton.
The trio is among 100 dogs saved by a New Jersey group from a meat market in South Korea, where they were destined to wind up on someone's dinner table.
The shelter manager, Daisha Pierce, described the conditions in which the dogs were found, telling us, "Unsanitary conditions, very small living quarters, dogs on top of each other - the worst thing you can probably imagine them."
The dogs are being kept in a restricted area away from the other animals at the shelter while staffers work to acclimate them.
Mike Yacono is a shelter attendant, and he says, "They are scared but they're not aggressive at all. They're not mean, they're not trying to bite us."
The dogs are stressed, extremely skittish, and fearful of coming too close.
Unfamiliar things like a loud lawnmower ratchets up their anxiety. So, the staff is moving very slowly.
Daisha explained their approach to the animals, saying, "(We) just let them be and when they come to you, reward them so that they understand coming to us is a safe thing."
It may take some time for the dogs to come around. Their living conditions were horrible and the only interactions they had with humans was extremely negative.
Daisha Pierce says dogs like these would be pulled out of their cages and slaughtered for food right in front of other dogs.
The consumption of dog meat has been a tradition in South Korea for thousands of years. It's become controversial recently as animal rights groups shine a light on the cruel treatment of the animals.
Now, with help from the Burlington County Animal Shelter, these innocent dogs have escaped that fate and will one day become a family pet.
Daisha explains, "As soon as they are ready, they'll go up for adoption. I have no doubt whatsoever that they are going to be able to get healthy, happy homes."