The scam involves dogs and cat puppies, according to the animal rights group PETA.
The dogs are being bred in South Korean factories and sold to dog owners in South and North Korea, where the puppies are kept in cages with no access to water, food or veterinary care.
“The puppies are being sold by the thousands in the middle of the night and then they are thrown into a freezer and left there until they die,” said Peta Wilson, of PETA, in an interview with The Associated Press.
She said she received a call from a woman in Seoul in December 2016 who had been tricked into buying a dog from a shelter in the North Korean capital of Pyongyang.
The shelter, the North Koreans told Wilson, had been sending puppies to her parents in Seoul, which is home to some 30 million people.
The puppies were later shipped to the South Korean capital for breeding, Wilson said.
“She was told by the shelter that it was to breed two puppies for a pet shop and that the puppies would go to the owners in Seoul.
She was then told that they would have to wait three months before they would be brought to the owner’s house,” she said.
Wilson said the puppies were sold to dogs and dogs became abandoned animals.
The Korean government said it had no idea who was selling the puppies, saying the dogs were “in a state of quarantine.”
“The Korean authorities have been working on ways to prevent these animals from being sold to pet shops and to provide better protection for these animals,” a spokesperson for the Korea Association for Animal Protection told AFP on Thursday.
“We urge the Korean authorities to stop the breeding of dogs and to immediately ban the practice and take steps to prevent such a trade.”
Peta Wilson says the dogs and puppies she bought from the shelter are in a state where they are considered to be in quarantine.
– Reuters news agency