Saturday, April 25, 2009

Adopting a Pet in Korea

Here's the question:
Hey.
I'm just curious,
What sort of pets are available in Korea? I tried to look online, but can't really find much, other that the typical mad person over people eating dog.
I want to start this question with a minor rant. Bringing an animal into your house or family is a wonderful thing and I would always encourage it if you have enough time to properly care for the animal. Many people come to Korea and decide that they want to adopt a pet. The rub is that after their contract or time in Korea has come to an end, they often post messages like this one.

Does anybody want my cute cat?. She loves to cuddle and she needs a new home.
Why? I'm too busy to give her the attention she deserves... Every time I come home she begs for love, and it breaks my heart! Lucy's a sweet, fluffy, white cat who deserves a better home than the one I'm giving her. She loves to cuddle, and will sleep with you every night (if you let her!). She will sometimes join you while you watch tv or use the computer. She's very low-maintenance; just keep her fed and her potty clean and shes good!

If you're interested, please call or text me at 010-****-****. She and all of her her toys, litterbox, and food are all free to a good home!
-OR-
I'm giving away my lovely cat: Mr. Mew. He's loveable and an amazing friend.
Why? I'm leaving to go home for June, so Mr. Mew needs a new friend in Korea for end of May. He's really great.


Maybe they found their pet on the streets, adopted it from a shelter or purchased it from a pet store, but one thing is clear: They had no intention of keeping their pets forever. Chances are that they were lonely and wanted something to keep them company, but now that it's time to leave, they need to pawn it off. That is not fair to the animal or to anyone else. So, if you're going to get a pet, please think it through and make sure you're ready for the full commitment.

Now, if you are interested in adding an animal to your life, there are several options for you in Korea. I usually like to point people to Animal Rescue Korea. They do not actually have a shelter, but rather they collect adoption-related information from all over the country and compile it on their website. Instead of listing each resource, I'll just link the ARK page here and the forum page here.

Your other option is buying an animal from a pet store. There is a street in Chungmuro simply called Pet Street. They mostly have dogs, but there are a few cats spread throughout the area. To get there, just go out either exit 3 or 4 at Chungmuro Station. This recommendation comes with a heavy warning though. The animals are from puppy mills which of course attract the ire of many advocacy groups because of the horrible conditions in which the animals are kept. I purchased a puppy from Chungmuro before. It did not turn out well. Here's my story.

The final option is adopting one from the streets. The best way to do this is just as you would at home. Take the dog in; bring it to one of the dozens of local vets and put up "Found" signs.

The bottom line is that if you're going to get an animal in Korea, please make sure you take it with you when you leave. The pounds in Korea only keep the animals for 10 days before euthanizing them. So, be smart and follow the steps if you are serious about adopting.

*** Update 4/28/09 ***

Brian wrote a nice piece in the Joongang Ilbo and on his blog. There's also a facebook group called "I adopted a homeless animal in Korea and lived to tell the tale."

If anybody has any questions, just send me an email at asktheexpat@yahoo.com or leave a comment.

4 comments:

Brian said...

Thanks for the link.

Nicole said...

Thanks for all the info on pets. How convenient and realistic is it to be able to travel around South Korea with your pet, say if you wanted to go out of town with your dog? Are buses, taxis etc. pet friendly at all?

Julie said...

I am so glad that you posted this and I absolutely agree with everything you said. I visited this area to buy some toys to bring back for my border/aussie in the states and I was absolutely appalled by what I saw. Dozens and dozens of puppy mills and maybe two or three actual supply stores. And the stores contained just food and cages, as if thats all a dog needs to be happy. Most of the puppies were much too young to be away from their mothers. There is no way that you can purchase a well adjusted dog from here. I am begging anybody who reads this to buy a puppy from a reputable breeder or from a rescue. This area is pure evil and it makes me sick to my stomach.

Just me said...

Hi I want to adopt a dog in Korea but I'd feel mean leaving it all day by itself while we were teaching. Ay advice?