Conversation with a Korean animal advocate

I'd like to say thank you to Mishall, a member of ARK as well as several Korean animal protection groups including Voice 4 Animals, for taking time to meet me at a Loving Hut in Seoul and talk to me about the campaigns she's been involved in. I hope to research some of those issues in more depth in the near future--this announcement touches on just two.

Mishall is a longtime rescuer with seven dogs at home, and on the weekends she pins a cloth sign to her back asking people not to wear fur. (The sign has a cute raccoon's face on it.) Mishall paid a designer in Itaewon 40,000 won to make the sign, and there would be a 5,000 won shipping charge if a customer wanted it delivered. ARK members are welcome to contact Mishall at [email protected] for further information. (I want to emphasize that this *isn't* a fundraising campaign and Mishall isn't profiting from the sales of these signs--you would be paying the designer for her labour and materials.)

I also found out Mishall has volunteered at sidewalk adoption events in Itaewon--she's part of what some people have referred to as "the mercy killing group." That's a real misnomer, though--as it turns out, the volunteers take unclaimed dogs from vet clinics in Yongsan-gu where they would otherwise be at risk of being killed on behalf of the district government. Contrary to what some people have stated on Facebook, potential adopters have to fill out an application and meet certain criteria to be approved. If the volunteers believe the applicant and the dog are a good match, a volunteer goes to the vet clinic with the dog and the adopter for a health check at the adopter's expense. They also arrange for neutering that day--the procedure is not optional.

Dogs who are not adopted at the end of a sidewalk event are returned to the vet clinics, but are not killed because supporters help the volunteers pay for boarding. Some vets also provide discounts. After three adoption events, dogs who are still not adopted are transported to a no-kill shelter in Pocheon (not the CARE shelter, a different one). That doesn't mean all animals picked up in Yongsan-gu are safe--the volunteers can't always take every needy animal to their sidewalk events--but I was relieved to learn they don't actually deliver animals to their deaths after an unsuccessful event. At first Mishall told me this was a "secret," but then she gave me permission to reveal it.

Right now the group has many volunteers arranging adoptions in Itaewon, so what they need more than anything is more adopters. But Mishall thinks similar events in other locations could get more pound animals into homes. ARK members who are interested in organizing such events, or who would like more information about how they can help save animals in Yongsan-gu, are free to e-mail Mishall.

Tags: Itaewon, mercy-killing group, activism


Karen's picture

Thanks so much for posting about this, red dog. It's good to read an update about Mishall's work and to know the anti-fur protests as still going on.

Also, I'd heard of the "mercy killing" group but was really confused about what they were doing. This clarifies a lot, much appreciated. Is their group mainly Koreans, expats, or both?

red dog's picture

I believe all the current volunteers are Korean.

Hunt's picture

Thanks. I had also heard about the "Mercy Killing Groups", but when I was googling in the past all I could find was about human mercy killings, when family has been disgraced. .

kmwg19's picture

Thanks for finding out more and posting Red Dog! It's good to know.

red dog's picture

I thought it was called "honour killing" when a family has been disgraced? Anyway, I edited my message because I'm not completely clear on the exact wording in English of Mishall's cloth sign. It's an anti-fur message asking people not to wear an animal's skin if they are good people--maybe someone here can come up with an accurate translation?

red dog's picture

There's a lot of contradictory information circulating about the sidewalk adoptions and I'm doing more research into this controversial campaign. I'll post more when I know more, but I now know the group's name is Yuhaengsa and some of the animals may come from other places in addition to Yongsan-gu. Thanks to everyone who has helped me so far.