BUSAN, South Korea — It was his big, scared brown eyes that I noticed first. Running between the angry cars and impatient people one balmy Busan night, the little guy couldn’t speak, at least not with words. But those eyes, they said, “I’ve lost my mommy and my daddy and I don’t know what to do.” I picked up the flea-infested Shih Tzu, and eight months later, Noh Suk Jah (Korean for “The Tramp”) is still repaying me daily with love and laughter.
Noh Suk Jah is one of the lucky ones. Most lost or abandoned pets will end up in overcrowded, dirty, and often disease-infested shelters around Busan where their fates are certain – if owners are not found within a month, the dogs are put down.
Luckily, a small, fortunate group of these strays will find their way into the loving care of Leo Mendoza and Shin Jin Young at the Busan Abandoned Pet Shelter near Gimhae. There, with the assistance of a network of volunteers, they will be fed, socialized (many are understandably traumatized), provided with medical attention and, most importantly, fostered or adopted. Busan Haps readers might remember an article in the magazine last fall about their amazing work.
Sadly, the shelter is now in trouble. The owner of the land where the dogs are kept has decided not to renew the lease with BAPS, and once again the animals face the prospect of being without a home. We spoke to Leo and Jin Young about their predicament.
What will happen to the dogs if you don’t find alternative premises by the time the lease expires?
We are trying to have as many adopted as possible by August 20 [when the lease expires], and the remainder will have to go to a regular shelter.
What are your most pressing needs right now?
The biggest problem we have now is finding new land to rent. We need big help on this. Our needs are very simple: empty land, running water, electricity, and to be in an area where neighbors will not be disturbed by the inevitable noise that a bunch of dogs together can make.
Once we find the land, we need the money to move our existing facilities and build new structures in the new land, and our estimates for the cost are 6-10 million won (depending on the quality of equipment we can afford). So, fundraising is key for this, as we cannot afford to pay for the move out of our personal accounts.
What can people in Busan do to help?
Find adoptive homes! We have around 35 dogs that are easily adoptable at the moment. We hope to continue BAPS past August, but are preparing for the worst, and want to have as many dogs as possible go out to loving homes. If we successfully move, we want to save as many new dogs as possible.
You mentioned fundraising. How is BAPS currently funded?
From 2008 until mid 2010, entirely from our personal savings. Since 2010, about 50% of the budget has been from donations of expats here in Korea, and occasionally, their families abroad.
To help defray the expenses of BAPS’s inevitable move, a Facebook group has been set up to coordinate fundraising efforts and ideas – you can find it here.
This Saturday the 21st of May there will be two events to benfit BAPS. One is a charity soccer tournament and then in the evening there will be an auction at The Wolfhound. Come on out and support a truly worthy cause.
Go visit the sanctuary, if for nothing else, to see Leo (far right) dressed like an ajuma. ~Editor