For even more awesome information about having a dog in Korea, check out 10 Tips for Adopting a Dog in Korea.
Editors Note [April 11, 2019]: This article is not written to “encourage” shopping for pets over rescuing from shelters. Readers should know that average neighborhood pet shops are notorious for supporting puppy mills and unethical animal breeding. However, for any reason should people choose to shop, for example wanting an animal besides a dog or cat, we encourage you to visit a registered pet shop from South Korea’s Animal Protection Management System, which was originally linked by our author. We are not here to preach our views on animal adoption, but instead to provide people resources so they can make the choice themselves.
Hop on the pet-loving train today, we are going to lay out all the required information you need to know on how to adopt or get a pet in Korea (note: Cats and Dogs-biased).
Dog, cat, and other pet adoption in Korea
You can get your pet at a pet shop, just like anywhere else. They’re the most certified and safe way to get a pet, in the meaning that you can get registration papers and health guarantees. However, people should use caution shopping at any pet shop around Korea. For dogs and cats, neighborhood pet shops often use puppy mills and other unsafe breeding practices. Always make sure to shop wisely!
If you want more list of pet shops, here’s a list of registered pet shops from South Korea’s Animal Protection Management System.
Animal Shelter Adoption
In Korea, many people decide to get dogs and cats, then either leave the country or decide to give them up. Therefore, we highly recommend rescuing from a shelter or finding animals through Facebook groups.
Animal Rescue Korea made a community-created list of private and municipal animal shelters throughout South Korea where you can adopt, volunteer, donate, foster, or possibly find (or bring) a lost pet. (The website closed down in 2014 but the shelters listed are all still open!)
- Asan Angels Sanctuary
- KAPS: Daegu
- Friends of Daejeon Paws
- Busan Abandoned Pet Sanctuary
- Jeju Animals
- Nabiya Cat Shelter (Seoul)
- CATS, Whiskers Ministop (Seoul)
Editors Note: Readers have pointed us to 포인핸드 (Paw in Hand), an app that although in Korean, has tons of animals to rescue!
**The ones listed above are shelters that have information in English!**
Please be cautious when adopting online, as there is no way to verify sellers. Although the website might say 무료분양 Muryo Bunyang (Free adoption) most cases will have you pay for “Responsibility Fee” or “Adoption Fee”. This is to deter careless people from abusing or abandoning the pets later on.
All these online adoption centers are in Korean, but there’s plenty of pictures of the animals to help you choose.
Legal Issues When Adopting a Pet
Not all apartment buildings allow residents to own a pet. Make sure to check with your building owner or read through your contract first before adopting, just in case there could be problems later.
Check if the seller provides an adoption contract or sales contract. Like a warranty, in case something happens to the animal in a short amount of time, the seller would take responsibility. From personal experience, the guinea pig I received had health problems and died within 4-5 days, so the shop owner took responsibility and (instead of a refund) gave me a new guinea pig.
In the case that your pet might hurt someone else, you could be fined for at least 5,000,000 KRW or be held in detention. On a more serious instance, like your pet causes injuries leading to death, it is 7,000,000 KRW fine or at least 2 years imprisonment. (source: Easy Law)
In the case that you leave your pet, especially dogs, that have aggressive behavior or the tendency to attack someone unattended or not leashed, you could be fined for 100,000 Krw or get in detention. (source: Easy Law) Specifically, if you own a dog of these breeds: Tosa, American Pitbull, American Staffordshire Terrier, Staffordshire Bull Terrier, Rottweiler, or any other fierce-dog. If they are older than 3 months, it is required that they’re always leashed and that you use mouth cap. (source: Easy Law)
It’s advised to put a tag on your pet with your name, phone number, and your pet’s ID number if you registered them. If your lost pet was found without a tag, you can be fined for 500,000 Krw. (source: Easy Law)
Here are some notable Facebook Groups that share useful information to pet owners in ROK.
Traveling Home with Your Pet – Paperwork and Logistics
So it’s time to leave Korea and head to a new place, or maybe home. Before you travel, there are a few documents you should secure to fly safely and legally with your pet. You can find more about to process of flying internationally with dogs here, and specifically cats here. A general rule of thumb is to visit the vet for a health check and call the airline company to find out their regulations for international air travel. You can find a list of English-speaking vet clinics here.