Mar 10, 2012

Having pets in Korea

This is Abby, she's about 10 years old. She's lived with me for about 6 of those years, and 2 of those years have been in Korea. I got her while I was in university, living in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. Then she moved with me to Ontario, Canada, then Daegu, Korea and now Chungju, Korea.

She hates traveling. Well, she seems a lot more ok with it now. In the beginning, she'd meow bloody murder every time she was in her carrier and outside of the house, only for about the first hour of traveling and then only a bit after that... now it's just the first 10-15 minutes. She's really mellowed out!
Taking her to Korea from Canada, in 2010, meant making sure she had her rabies vaccination, 30 days prior to arrival, and a health certificate. I ended up booking Air Canada, with an additional fee of course, because they were the only airline that would allow her in cabin at her weight. Yeah, she's a big cat. The whole situation at the airport was another matter though, going through security with pets takes things to a whole new level. I had to take her out of her carrier, so that her carrier could be scanned, while I held onto her. It didn't help that the lady behind me, waiting to go through security, was terrified of cats. Or the fact that Abby HATES traveling. I was terrified at any moment she would freak out, claw me to death, and run off into the airport... But once we got onto the airplane, and eventually to the airport at Incheon in Korea, it was a breeze. Actually, I had to find someone to check her papers and make sure she was good to go. They didn't really check that closely, I could've just walked out no problem...

We traveled for about 24 hours from Canada to Korea total, and while it was stressful, she was totally fine once we got settled in and she's adapted well. During the move from Daegu to Chungju, (2+ hours) she barely meowed and actually slept, which is especially surprising for her since she's a really chatty cat. Although I feel like it isn't fair that she's had to move because of me so many times, I still think it was for the best for both of us. I don't know what would've happened to her if i didn't take her, and I've been so happy to have her around. Sure there are tough times, but it's worth it.We're a team.
In our new apartment.
I've noticed that a lot of teachers in Korea get pets while they're here (for 1-2+ years) then leave them when they go home/elsewhere. Yes, it costs more to move them, and requires planning (rabies + health certificate, and potentially more depending on country). But it's worth it. And they rely on you, wait at the door for you, you're all they have. So make sure you're committed to having a pet, and what having a pet means, before you take one on. And if you can't commit, then foster! There are great organizations out there, here's one for  starters:

 And yeah, it can seem like a lot of money to keep a pet, especially as a traveler (vet bills, supplies, food, transportation costs, etc.), but for me personally, it's totally worth it.


  1. Charlie bit the crap out of me going through security in Seoul on Saturday. She and Mochi are now curled up together on their new bed - I wouldn't have it any other way! Although my thumb is swollen and painful :-)

  2. That was my worst fear while holding onto Abby while waiting for them to scan her carrier. The problem was that the carrier wasn't heavy enough to push through the flaps, but they just kept trying anyway, for what felt like eternity.
    After going through all of that it must feel pretty good to be home safe and sound. Charlie and Mochi look pretty pleased.