Buying a Pet in Korea

* Read the follow up blog, Beware of Animal Rescue Extremists

Thinking about getting a pet in Korea? Rest assured, there are several ways to do so. My girlfriend just guided me along the lengthy process of researching the various options, communicating with a ton of people and getting emotionally involved with quite a few dogs. And through her diligence and perseverance, we are now the proud owners of an amazing Yorkshire Terrier puppy.

Here’s what we learned in the process.

There are pet stores everywhere, however many people make very vocal arguments against them. Apparently they support so called “puppy mills”, places that crank out animals, that are not always considered the most humane places. And it’s believed that pet stores tend to be the most expensive option.

You can visit a kill shelter, which sound similar to the animal pound at home. It’s basically death row for animals. An example is Karama near Uijeongbu in NE Seoul. At Karama, a dog will cost 50,000 won, which is refundable once you provide proof of neutering.

There is the animal rescue option. These good people take abandoned, often sick animals, nurture them back to health and put them up for adoption. A great example of an online community of animal rescue adoption options is Animal Rescue Korea. Prices will vary depending on which individual you are dealing with.

There are also animal rehabilitation centers, like Dr. Pet Animal Hospital in Gangnam, who acquire sick and injured pets from places like the kill shelters, bring them back to life, and put them up for adoption. Similar to what you will find individually on Animal Rescue Korea, but larger and more organized in one physical location. Appointments are necessary. I believe the cost is around 50,000 won for a dog. It is not refundable, however most of the pets are already neutered.

Now let me take you on our personal and informative journey. We set out to avoid the pet stores, and ended up with an awesome puppy… from a pet store. And we’re very happy with our decision. Here’s why.

After almost 2 years of searching and contemplating the various options, my girlfriend had located the perfect dog.

A few visits to Dr. Pet didn’t reveal anything that she was interested in. And we were discouraged from using Karama. People had informed us that even though they may tell you otherwise, many of the dogs are terminally sick or injured. We also heard that it’s not the most foreigner friendly option. I can’t verify, but rumor has it their attitude can be that of take it or leave it you waegook.

What we thought was our new dog was found on Animal Rescue Korea. Same breed as her dog at home. 5 month old puppy. Heartbreaking story of abandonment and health issues that she could relate to. It could not have been a better match. So we decided it was time to pull the trigger on a decision. It was time to adopt.

She navigated the lengthy application process by email. (It should also be noted that all attempts to communicate by phone throughout this entire process were turned down.) She was asked a million and one questions, including but not limited to:

How familiar are you with dogs?
Who is your vet?
What would you feed it?
Multiple questions making sure you are not going to abandon the animal.
Are all family members OK with getting the dog?
What do you know about training dogs?
How long you have lived in Korea and how long do you plan to be here?
Do you know about your home country’s pet immigration laws?
Do you have the time to commit to this animal?
What is your daily schedule?
How much you anticipate the costs will be?
And you have to agree to neuter the dog.

Shortly after being approved, she was informed that three other people applied as well. One was turned down and one pulled out. And the other couple was 75% sure that the time was not right to take on such a responsibility. With enthusiasm, we made the push, saying the time has never been better, we’re 100% committed, what do we need to do to make this happen?

They then encouraged us to purchase train tickets to visit them in Daegu, knowing we were coming from Seoul. And because they would not let us take the dog home the same day, we were preparing to make over night arrangements as well. Making matters worse, they knew that it was going to be my girlfriend’s birthday weekend, and that we were completely changing our previously established plans, inconveniencing a lot of people, to make the long trip south to pick up her birthday present.

After dropping all of our plans and spending the necessary cash on travel arrangements and puppy supplies, the bomb was dropped. We were informed that the other couple had changed their mind, and were now all of the sudden committed to giving this dog a good home. Not only would they be visiting the dog immediately, but would be allowed to take him home the same day. And by the way, dogs would not be held for anyone.

What?! It was a scene reminiscent of Seinfeld’s Soup Nazi. No dog for you.

Here’s what we learned, hopefully it can help you out should you consider the animal rescue option.

This particular person looked down upon our enthusiasm. She viewed it as immaturity. She preferred to give the dog to the couple that she had known longer, who were up and down on the decision until deciding it was finally right for them. In her words, that was considered more level headed, choosing to ignore that my girlfriend has been looking at dogs for two years.

Communicating with email is very difficult. She decided to twist our initial words in to meanings that were not intended. We responded by writing back out of frustration with the adoption process, and she did the same thing yet again. She took offense to our objections and questions and was not shy when letting us know about it when she responded. It was borderline mean and definitely unnecessary, considering the emotions involved in making such a decision. The phone would have been SO much easier, especially when dealing with a person that only saw what she wanted to see. It would have also saved us a lot of time, money and heartache.

That said, after this horrible experience, we ended up with the most amazing puppy from a store called Cool Pet. Because he will grow to be a full size Yorkie, not the mini version that most Koreans prefer, he was cheap. In fact, we bought the dog and all of his supplies for the price it would have cost us to travel to Daegu and purchase the rescue dog. Throw in the price of our unnecessarily requested accomodation for the night, as well as pet supplies, and it would have cost us much more to go the adoption route.

Cool Pet is super thorough. The Vet on staff speaks English and has helped us with everything. His medical chart is on the computer. We have a calendar of important upcoming dates. He immunizations are current, and we are scheduled for more. She provided ideas for creating his personal space within the apartment and offered many suggestions for proper training.

We couldn’t be happier with our decision.

* Read the follow up blog, Beware of Animal Rescue Extremists

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~ by ripcitytoseoul on September 22, 2010.

28 Responses to “Buying a Pet in Korea”

  1. Congrats on the new family member! Cute little guy. How old? I actually just got two kittens (brother and sister) about a week and a half ago myself. What did you and your girl name him?

    • Happy Dude is his name, with plenty of English and Korean variations that are rolling off my tongue for nicknames. We mostly call him happy. He’s only 10 weeks old, so acting like a crazy puppy.

  2. Yeah, my animals are probably in an identity crisis because of all of the nicknames I have for them. But, they are all in English.

  3. Wow…that’s dope man…where is this place?

  4. […] girlfriend and I recently got a puppy, and I wrote about it in the post Buying a Pet in Korea. It was long, tiresome, and emotional. But in the end, we couldn’t be more […]

  5. hello !
    I am desperatly looking for a yorkie puppy …i visited a dog store but 2 of the puppies were dying probably of parvo so i decided to not take a chance …I heard about cool pet but could you tell me where it is located ?? plus how much should i except for a yorkie puppy ? i am going to yongson on monday and i was thinking to go there …thanks a lot for your help

    • My girlfriend says the Cool Pet in Yongsan is a big store that comes recommended. We got our dog at the Cool Pet store in Ilsan. The vet is at the store and they have been very diligent with his care. Prices can vary depending on what kind of Yorkie you get. From what I’ve seen, expect around 250,000 for a regular sized dog to 500,000 + for the mini versions. We love our little guy, but he’s a handful.

  6. He’s a cute dog! Pet adoption is a noble thing but the redtape and paper work can kill your enthusiasm. looks like you found a great store. I will tell my friends in Korea about this place if they need puppies.

  7. I was just wondering if you had a phone number for this cool pet place? I too just went through the animal extremist thing!!! The lady took major offense to me asking if a kitty was de-clawed and decided to deny my application because I owned a de-clawed cat at appearently that is inhuman! So, anyway… We are at Camp Casey and have been looking for about 2 months for a yorkie and I wanted to call cool pet and see if they had any in because I have been visiting homeplus and Lottemart for the last month and keep being told to come back next Monday Haha Unfortunatly IPark is a 2hr drive so I don’t really want to have to keep checking back!

    • The Cool Pet at Home Plus in Ilsan is 031-908-1756. The vet or vet techs usually have pretty decent English. We go there pretty frequently for his check ups, shots, haircuts… and they seem to always have Yorkies.

  8. Hey , thanks for sharing ,does they have pomeranian please? and how much does puppies cost in Korea?? thanks 🙂

  9. […] I’m getting a puppy when I get to Korea. No ifs, ands or buts about it! This post about a couple buying a puppy in Korea was very educational. I’ve always wanted a […]

  10. I was actually planning on adopting a dog from “animal rescue korea” but now I want to have a look at Cool Pet first. I was going to be taking the train to Daegu this Sunday.

    Do you think you could give me directions to Cool Pet’s so I can check that place out first?

  11. The cool pet in yongsan, is it close to the emart? I going to go look for it tomorrow and want to make sure I am heading in the right direction

    • I’ve never actually been to the Cool Pet in Yongsan. The one we go to in Ilsan is located inside the Home Plus. Good luck.
      BTW, our pet store dog is more than healthy. He’s ripped, more like a little horse. Couldn’t be more healthy.

  12. where is Cool Pet? I am trying to find a good place to buy a healthy puppy here in Korea, I am stationed here for 2 years with my husband

  13. So happy I found this post. We were thinking of getting a puppy but have been having the same troubles trying to find a breeder or trying to find a reputable pet store. Definitely going to check Ilsan this weekend! 🙂

  14. My girlfriend and I have been thinking about getting a dog for the last year in Korea as well. We also thought of the adoption route but we have been put off by it prior to reading this blog. Now we have a Korean friend helping us to find a healthy dog likely through a pet shop.

    There are quite a few Homeplus stores in Ilsan now. Which store was it? Cool pets sounds more like the experience we would want. We hope the store is still there since this is a two year old entry.

    • We got our Yorkie at the Cool Pet in the bottom of the Home Plus close to La Festa. A block from the McDonalds. The vets seemed to do a good job. I wouldn’t leave your dog there for an extended period of time if you travel though, find a different pet hotel, not sure he received the best care. We’re now living with him back in the US. He’s perfectly healthy.

  15. While you may have had one very bad experience adopting, it is kind of off putting that you finally decided to buy a puppy and are now pointing other people in that direction as well. You may have started out with good intentions but if you really cared, could you not have put in the effort or time to wait for another shelter dog that fit your specifications or at least find a reputable breeder? I am sure in two years of searching you could have done one or the other.
    All pet store puppies are from puppy mills. Knowing that you still chose to get your puppy from the pet store, so can you really blame the lady for saying you were immature if at the end of the day you did what was in your best interest and not in your dog’s best interest. I am quite sorry though that this lady is harassing you and you definitely don’t deserve that but by the way your post is written, it seems like you are telling people not to bother with the adoption process and just buy instead because it is not worth the hassle.

  16. I’ve been looking for a beagle about 2 to 4 weeks old. Would u recommend that place. Can I have the directions to that store and the phone number? Is it in Seoul? If it isn’t do you know any good pet stores with beagles in Seoul?

  17. that last comment was mine so you can reply on this comment please

    • Sorry for the delay. We had pretty good interactions with the people at Cool Pet in Ilsan, located at the Hope Plus store close to Lake Park. I believe there are other Cool Pet locations around Seoul. I’ve been back in the state for 1.5 years now, so I may not be the best source of info at this time. Thanks for reading.

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