How Lucky (and Tokki) were Adopted from KARAMA

There has been a renewed interest on ARK about adopting from KARAMA, so hopefully this post will give people a better idea of what this entails and how to rescue a dog from there.

Lucky is not the first dog I have taken from KARAMA; there is also my dog Tokki. Tokki was rescued a year ago “a dog away from death.” She was scheduled to be put down the morning she was reserved.

Both dogs took multiple people and two weeks to reserve. Tokki was reserved the day of her death and Lucky was reserved half a week before. I heard there have been some problems with foreigners adopting in the past, so KARAMA is not the most welcoming to potential adopters.

Here are some things to keep in mind when considering adopting from KARAMA:

-be persistent! Be persistent! Be persistent!
(I can only assume running a shelter that large and busy, the staff has other obligations than tracking down individual dogs. Don’t let them take your number and say they’ll call you back – you call them back. Be polite of course, just let them know you hadn’t heard anything and you were wondering how things were coming along)

-if you have a Korean friend, call in a favor from them
(every time I called in English, I was politely hung up on. There is a lady that handles English speakers/foreign adopters, but she only works part-time and is very busy. Even if your friend calls and puts the animal on hold for you, it will buy you a little more time to call back)

-if you have an animal already, you can try having your vet call
(this verifies that you’re a responsible owner who has their animals fixed and UTD on shots)

-KARAMA frowns on fostering and expects you to keep the dog you adopt
(you sign a contract to this effect)

-KARAMA expects all pets to be speutered within 3 months at your expense.

Also, consider the costs and potential complications:

-the shelter has been a hotbed for both distemper and parvo in the past. These diseases specifically are in puppies, who have weak immune systems from the gap between leaving mother and getting vaccinations, but they will also strike adult dogs. Distemper and parvo are dangerous and extremely expensive to treat.

-the dog may have heartworms. This is also dangerous and expensive to treat. The vet quoted me a rescue treatment of 200, 000w (for 1 round of treatment).

-basic vet expenses ie. Shots, heartworm test, anti-body tests, heartworm preventative, etc. This will probably run you about 150, 000w.

-if you already have animals at home you may look into a 10-14 day quarantine.

-you tend to adopt “sight unseen.” Therefore its very difficult to gauge the dog’s temperament, if its barker, good with other animals/small children. KARAMA requires that is the animal doesn’t work out, then you must return it to them.

So basically the process went like this: call to reserve the dog, do a small phone interview and fill out an application (I did not have to do these with Lucky because I adopted Tokki previously), and set a date to pick up your new friend. I've also heard that they are requiring you meet the dog first... but this was not the case for either dog I adopted. If you are going by subway, take the Dark Blue line north of Seoul to Deokjeong and take a taxi to KARAMA (10, 000w). Bring a carrier as well as your ARC. I’ve been told the fee is 50, 000 w to adopt a dog, but I did not have to pay for either dog – just promise to fax a copy of their spay.

Personally, I got lucky with Tokki. Besides being dirty and smelly and emotionally stunted, she was actually quite healthy (aside from her knees – but that’s the breeder’s fault). After reserving her (my Co-Teacher did this for me), it was quite easy to pick her up. Lucky wasn’t so Lucky. Lucky came out of the shelter with good immunity to distemper and parvo but she had a severe heartworm infestation. She is currently undergoing treatment. Likewise, once she was reserved, she was very easy to pick up.

Hopefully this will help save more lives in the future

Tags: Karama, adoption


adoptbullies's picture

Love the new term! "KARAMA expects all pets to be ***speutered *** within 3 months at your expense."

So have you adopted Lucky, or just fostering?

eveliens's picture

LOL, you could always go by google's translation: naturalized

I have carefully considering adoption and discussed it with all parties that would be involved (sans the landlady) and sadly will not be adopting her myself. My goals were/are: get her out of KARAMA alive; get her healthy; have her go to a great forever home. Sadly, between the surgery for Tokki's knees (which needs to be done much sooner than expected - as in ASAP, yikes) and my family back home who I will be staying with after Korea, #3 is not me at this time. I will foster her until she is heartworm clear and then either find her a more permanent foster or a forever home for her.

I do see the glaringly obvious discrepancy between what I posted and what I'm doing; however, I personally never plan to take another dog out of KARAMA.

adoptbullies's picture

Would you be able to coordinate with the English volunteer at Karma to start a small fostering program? Maybe if someone started working with them directly, having one waygook rep to go thru, hypothetically you ^^ then you could build a more smooth relationship between KARMA and English speakers.

Maybe right now they feel like foreigners always "rehome" (because they might not have the same concept of fostering as we do--or they were just not fully informed about intentions) as a result, they are not very foreigner friendly. I know there is more of a history there than that, but just wondering if they had someone that worked with them on all details then maybe they could rebuild trust in the expat population when it came to adopting, and then extend it to fostering.

Just thinking that is how I started out at KAPS. They didnt have a fostering program and was actually quite leery of foreigners helping, adopting and fostering. But once they saw I was there to help and to work with and keep them informed about all things they slowly grew more trusting. Now they are accused of being too expat focus ^^

At any rate, glad you posted, its good for others to be able to reference how to work with KARMA.


clare_bell's picture

Excellent resource, thank you so much!

eveliens's picture

I know at one point that several reputable ARK members were on good terms with the staff at KARAMA. I believe at one point they may have also allowed fostering. Also, KARAMA does, as far as I know, still allow volunteering.

However, recently they have withdrawn and made it difficult to communicate. I know of several people trying to pull dogs at the same time as I pulled Lucky and we were sharing advice because the communication was so slow. In one year's time, reserving Tokki and reserving Lucky were completely different. I wasn't sure if Lucky was going to get out of there in time (I previously tried to pull a dog that was actually put down while I was trying to reserve him).

Honestly, if an ex-pat was going to try to build a relationship, they would have to be bi-lingual. They would also have to live somewhere near KARAMA because it is a 3 hour round trip from central Seoul. The sole English speaker is very, very busy.

Not nay-saying because I think it's a really good idea! KARAMA is the biggest shelter for Seoul and they accept a lot of dogs. Statistically, a lot of the dogs (and cats and small fuzzies and chickens and and and...) don't make it out alive.

I am just not sure of the politics, history or logistics in even attempting a program myself. Although if someone else was interested I'm sure they could find a lot of support.

turtlegal's picture

I pulled a dog from KARAMA recently too, and yes it was a process. At one point I thought he had been put down, but they had kept him for me. As others said you need to be persistent because the lady who speaks English is very busy and it is a bit of a hike to get there, but it can be done!