중앙데일리

Finding homes for Fido & Co.

‘A pet is not just a thing, an item that you own. A pet is actually part of your family.’ - Ryan Goessl, ARK

Aug 11,2009
Members of Animal Rescue Korea wash a dog at an animal shelter called Jane’s Grandpa’s located in Asan, South Chungcheong. ARK members visit the shelter every Saturday. Provided by Animal Rescue Korea
Coming across an abandoned pet is a heartbreaking sight that can pose quite a conundrum. Should you try to help out, or simply move on? It’s an even tougher decision for those who don’t speak Korean, as finding someone to ask for help can be a daunting task.

Enter Animal Rescue Korea, an expat organization that helps homeless animals find permanent homes.

The organization was originally created by Karen Busch, a Canadian teacher in Korea, to find homes for stray pets and help animals in need.

Ryan Goessl, an American professional vocal coach and an ARK coordinator who came to Korea in October 2006, said the group has grown from a handful of members in 2007 into a large, thriving community.

About 1,200 people have signed up for membership through ARK’s Web site. Of those, 250 are active on the site today, either posting pictures of animals who need homes or reporting incidents of animals abandoned on the street.

ARK doesn’t have an animal shelter of its own.

But one of the group’s major activities involves a weekly trip to a shelter called Jane’s Grandpa’s in Asan, South Chungcheong. Every Saturday, members stay busy walking, feeding, playing and brushing the dogs and cats in addition to cleaning their cages - which of course often entails scooping poop.

Katherine Hall, a Canadian English teacher and ARK coordinator who joined the group in January, said visiting the shelter grows “strangely addictive.”

“During the week after [helping out], I found myself thinking about animals,” Hall said. “You really began to bond with animals and you really look forward to seeing them and want to just check with them make sure they are doing O.K.”

ARK also gives heartworm prevention medication to dogs at the shelter every month. According to two members, the disease, transmitted through mosquito bites, can be life-threatening and costs about $200 to treat. But a monthly dose of the preventive medication, which costs only 10,000 won ($8.15), can save a life.

“A pet is not just a thing, an item that you own. A pet is actually part of your family,” Goessl said. “About 20 people come to the shelter on a regular basis to help out animals ... They dedicate their spare time to Animal Rescue Korea.”

Taking care of scores of animals has its costs, so ARK relies on fund-raisers to provide food and veterinary care. Even so, a lot of money comes out of members’ pockets. Several vet clinics across the country also assist the group by providing medical care and assisting in adoption procedures.

Under the care of ARK, some 220 animals, mostly cats and dogs, have been successfully adopted. However, there are still 250 animals living at the shelter.

Choi Jae-hyek, head veterinarian at Dr. Pet in Samseong-dong, southern Seoul, has treated animals brought in by ARK since October 2008. To help animals find permanent homes, Choi’s vet clinic also holds an adoption day every Saturday with ARK.

More than 100 animals, including dogs, cats, rabbits and hamsters, have found new owners on adoption days, Choi said.

“Members bring dumped animals to the hospital and we treat them so that they can meet their new owners in healthy condition,” said Choi, who worked as a veterinarian for the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in Australia in the past. “I feel gratified whenever I see sick dogs turn into princesses and manage to find new owners.”

ARK screens prospective adopters through an application form to discourage pet adoption on a whim. This is to ensure that pets are placed in good, safe “forever homes” that are capable of providing the highest quality of care and a lifetime commitment, Goessl said.

Irene Park, a Korean-American magazine publishing coordinator, found her dog through ARK.

“The first time I met him [at Dr. Pet], he didn’t have a lot of energy,” Park said. “He was very nervous and very quiet, but now he’s very energetic. He loves going to the mountains and running around. I think he’s very happily adjusted.”

To get involved in ARK’s activities, visit http://www.animalrescuekorea.org or join its Facebook group.



By Kim Mi-ju [mijukim@joongang.co.kr]





dictionary dictionary | 프린트 메일로보내기 내블로그에 저장