When we see stray animals on the streets, it’s hard not to appreciate their cuteness or feel sympathy for them. These days I have increasingly noticed numerous animals (stray, or even killed), myself, or through social media. This fall, I joined a school service club called CARE, which stands for “Coexistence of Animal Rights on Earth”. This worldwide club finds foster homes as well as “forever (adoptive) homes” for finding stray animals a foster home as well as an adoption home. On November 29, 2019, I visited Korea’s CARE shelter and was shocked by what I found. Personally, having two dogs at home, I could not believe how many dogs and cats there were in that small building. Being part of CARE, this was a special opportunity because it was my first time in an activity that does not involve helping people rather than living beings that cannot communicate verbally... It was the same idea of “helping others” but in a different form as we could not directly communicate with the animals.
[At the coalition center learning about the environment and CARE Korea.
We started off the day by cleaning the houses of the dogs and cats. They were fairly clean as it was inside an apartment similar structure with facility workers cleaning daily which gave us virtually nothing else to do other than feeding all 89 dogs and cats. Yet, still, there were around five new dogs that had just come to the organization that needed to be washed. The “teacher” there told us that we had to be careful with the dogs’ ears as water entering could cause serious damage to the eardrums. In order to prevent this from occurring, multiple students helped to clean one dog. Some students, including myself, had a difficult time washing some of the dogs as they did not seem to enjoy being bathed. They shook, themselves; and even tried to bite every time they were put into the large tub of water. However, there were also dogs that instantly “bonded” with the water. They looked so comfortable that it looked like they were receiving a spa treatment!
The next task was to feed the dogs. There were only 12 of us, two hours, and 89 dogs to feed. I was relieved to see the dogs eat as some of them were so thin that I could see all of their bones. We had to consider several things while feeding the dogs-- mostly, allergies; and sizes of the dogs. The one food that all the dogs seemed to enjoy was apples. According to the staff, apples for the dogs are equivalent to a candy bar for humans.
This animal coalition center has great meaning to the club, because first and foremost, the club is named after this organization. The best part of the day was that particularly on the day of, a family decided that one of the dogs (a Jindo named Lily)
|[Inside one of the rooms of the shelter. Photo Courtesy of Clare Sohn. ]|
It really hit me how that was the process in which all the dogs went through. Some of the dogs there had been at the same shelter for the past 10 years still not being adopted but found the shelter to be their home. All the dogs were family and I imagined what it would feel like to be put in the situation all the dogs are in. I look forward to future visits to care.
Seoul Foreign School
Clare Sohn firstname.lastname@example.org
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