A lot of Koreans are not fond of cats as pets, and it’s only the younger generations that are more keen on having cats as an indoor pet. As far as dogs, Korea is infamous for its dog meat market. (I hope to try dog soup soon!) However, there are a lot of Koreans that own dogs. In the smaller cities and more rural areas, they are treated solely as outdoor dogs and the owners keep them in some less than savory conditions. In the cities, small dogs are pampered Paris Hilton style. As a general rule of thumb, most Koreans prefer small and “cute” animals and many are ridiculously afraid of medium size dogs. Needless to say, there are a lot of strays and abandoned pets.
Fortunately, in the larger cities, there are animal shelters. Animal Rescue Korea (ARK) connects them all and is a way for people to find adoptable pets in Korea. Because there are so many strays and abandoned pets, the shelters are overcrowded. What is quite popular in Korea, especially among the ex-pat community, is to volunteer at the shelter or to foster a pet while they live here. While they foster the pet, it is still available for adoption but it provides the pet with an actual home where they can receive more attention until they find a ‘forever home’. Of course, ex-pats can also adopt a pet, but a problem that shelters encounter is the large number of ex-pats and U.S. Military personnel who adopt a pet in Korea and then give it back to the shelter when they leave…a HUGE no-no. So, to prevent this from happening, they’ve set up a process in which ex-pats must fill out a lengthy application and sit through an interview to ensure that they’ve thoroughly thought about the future and lifestyle compatibility with the pet.
Before I came to Korea, I had pets but I left them with my friend. My animals have become a part of their family, and I would not take that away from them. So, I decided to look for a pet in Korea. One of my friends went to a local pet store and bought a dog–let me clarify that, puppy. The pet store prices are outrageous, and of course, the problem with Korea’s pet stores is the same problem in American pet stores: they are overpriced and the animals are only kept their until they are small and young—then they’re killed or abandoned. So, I didn’t want to play into that system and I went through the lengthy route of the animal shelters.
The first cat I applied for was a no-go because the cat was stressed from recently changing foster homes. So, I submitted my application again for a Siamese cat.
The paperwork went through, the in-person interview was great, and two weeks after the application was submitted, I picked up my new kitty. 🙂 Unfortunately, she peed in her carrier on the drive back to my home. NOT FUN, especially when I found out that the carrier leaked—all over my pants. *sigh* Fortunately, this is the only time she’s peed in the carrier since then. I’ve had her for almost 3 months now. I named her Ariadne (Greek goddess name; wife of Dionysis (god of wine and lust)). I call her Ari, and it’s pronounced with like a Spanish (or Korean) accent. She’s very much a people-cat and loves to be pet, and is rarely playful or aggressive. She isn’t declawed but she instantly took to her scratching post and she’s never scratched me. Her personality and mannerisms are awesome because he had never met a pet cat so she was perfect for him to adjust. All in all, she’s a little lazy cuddle bug…more pictures here. ^^