What I know:  being a dog is hard.  Anywhere.  Well, to clarify, being a voiceless, sentient being (I.e. any animal) is hard anywhere, but of course domesticated pets break our hearts more than others.  I realize that statement lacks rationality, as it doesn't make sense to be concerned about the welfare of one animal over another.  Truth be told, people are simply more upset over the inhumane treatment of dogs and cats than pigs, chickens and cows.  Pets are just a lot more accessible than farm animals, which is a shame since they are all deserving of our awareness and advocacy.  This argument could go on forever, listing circus animals, wildlife, etc, etc.

That said, this post is about a specific dog rescue organization in Korea - while being a dog is hard anywhere, there is no question that it is ten million times as tough in Korea.  I started networking with Busan Abandoned Pet Sanctuary the moment I targeted the region/city I wanted to live in.  BAPS is close to Ulsan, where I will live in a few short days, and they have a great reputation for doing good things in dog rescue.  I jumped on their Facebook page several months ago and introduced myself and have been following their stories since.

About BAPS:

BAPS is privately owned in order to maintain their no kill policy.  Were the government to provide money for their group, they would be legally required to take in every dog sent to them and overpopulation would require euthanasia.  For this reason, they survive on donations and lint from their pockets in order to keep the shelter running.

BAPS was founded by Jin and Leo Mendoza and they fund the majority of the costs for the dogs themselves.  There are some monthly donations, but not enough to fully sustain the the shelter.  This is fairly typical in dog rescue.  Our work usually leaves us broke and covered in dog hair, but there is no question of it's worth.  Serious high fives to this couple for their dedication to this operation/organization in a country where so much adversity is thrown at them for their compassion.

How BAPS works:

The rescue process in Korea is similar to ours here:  pull the dog from a kill shelter, take care of the medical needs, and post for adoption.  Foster based rescuing is more difficult.  Accepting dogs into the home as pets in Korea is slooooowly gaining momentum (so I've read), so few dogs get home based foster care until they are adopted.  Most wait out for their adoption in the no-kill shelter, which is pretty crude by most standards.  Most dogs have heartworms and have to wait for a coveted foster home to open up for them to go and quietly recover.  After recovery in their posh new digs, they then have to go back to the shelter in order to move another dog into foster care for recovery.  Totally sad and confusing for the dog.


There are bigger and more bizarre problems, though.  For example, a few months ago I was watching updates from Leo about the shelter during the foot-and-mouth disease outbreak.  Korea was quarantining various areas, and one of those happened to be where the Busan shelter is located.  No one was allowed to enter or leave.  Not even to feed or provide water to the dogs.  Quarantines can last weeks!  I mean.  Seriously.  Would this ever be a dilemma in the USA?

The biggest problem BAPS is facing now is pretty huge:  the land their shelter sits on refuses to renew their lease in August.  It looked like BAPS would shut down.  There was no way to afford to rebuild on other land, nor did anyone have any idea where any other land was available.  It was a sad message to read from Leo, stating that BAPS would be finding the remaining dogs homes and likely closing its doors.

How to help:

It seems BAPS has crazy awesome volunteers and they are now fundraising the money in order to move and rebuild.  Now, I'm not living in Korea yet, and everything I know to this point is what I read and infer online, but I don't believe many organizations in Korea have people betting on them like this, with so much furor to keep the good cause alive.  Particularly in a country that so desperately needs the knowledge and awareness of the presence of humane organizations like BAPS.

I see this as a total testament to the good being done by this group of people.  I can't wait to meet and work with them, and I want to help already.  Don't you?  YOU CAN.  Donate!  Skip your Starbuck's tomorrow, $5 goes a long way.  Listed below is the bank information to send donations in Korea and in the USA:

KB Bank (Kook Min)
Account:  126302-04-048456
Name on the account: Shin Jin Young
Via Credit Union at 4505 S Adams, Marion, IN 46952
ABA number: 274975152
Account number: 502000
Name on the account: Ligia Mejia

I know, it's totally weird to post bank information like this for donations.  Of course Paypal would be much easier, but unfortunately Korean Paypal is run by Paypal Singapore, which doesn't recognize non-profit status for animal shelters.  The crazy logistics and injustices continue...

EDIT:  BAPS has now tied their American account with Paypal, so donations can go to daniel4jin@yahoo.com.

Go forth and donate.

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