Guest article by Eun-Bee Kwon
In December 2017, I had the opportunity to volunteer as a flight courier for two dogs, Tongki and Barny, who found their forever homes through Free Korean Dogs. I write my experience in the hopes that more people volunteer for this wonderful organization.
As soon as I put in the application for flight volunteering, Free Korean Dogs booked the dogs under my flight ticket. The local volunteers who took care of the dogs in the meantime did all the preparation work. Initially, I was concerned with sharing my personal information but they remained trustworthy by explaining why the information was needed and how they would discard it.
I met the two dogs and the local volunteer at the airport about three hours prior to my flight. There was a huge line-up because of the vacation season. The two dogs made sure I wasn’t bored in the lineup. Tongki kissed me despite the fact that I was a stranger in a strange environment. This is a good time to get to know about the dogs’ stories. It may be helpful to answer some of the questions at the inspection when you arrive in Canada. The local volunteers prepared all the paperwork and inspection/porter fees that I would need.
After a little more than the usual time spent at the check-in, the porters took the two dogs to the plane. I was concerned and worried about how the dogs were doing for the twelve hours of constant noise and turbulence. When the plane arrived I ran to go check the dogs.
At customs, I explained I had two rescue dogs bringing in with me. The customs officer was not impressed. He told me “There are already thousands of dogs getting euthanized in Canada because they are not adopted, and you are bringing in more.” He has a valid point in that there are dogs that are in need of family in Canada too. According to the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies, there were about 2820 dogs euthanized from shelters in 2015. However, 2034 of the dogs were unhealthy and untreatable. Still, it is one too many for any healthy dog to be euthanized because they did not have a family. There are many ways to lower the rates of stray dogs and euthanization such as informed and responsible adoption. I do not think targeting rescue dogs from another country would solve the problem.
I was finally reunited with the dogs at baggage claim. Tongki was still full of energy but whined as soon as he saw me. Barny seemed to be more anxious. I asked a porter to help with transferring the dogs to the inspection. We spent about 40 minutes at the inspection. The officers at the cargo adored Tongki and Barny.
When Barny and Tongki finally met their family, it was the most heartwarming scene. It was greatly rewarding to be a small part in the journey of their adoption. If you are traveling from Korea to Canada, apply now to be a flight courier and make a difference in the lives of rescue dogs.
Thank you for the amazing work and for providing this wonderful opportunity to join you, Ek Park and all the volunteers/adopters at Free Korean Dogs.
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