Another year, another winter. While we switch our furnaces from cool to warm, put away our tee shirts and shorts and bring out the winter coats and boots, winter preparations look much different for our shelters in Korea. Unfortunately, they don’t have the luxury of a furnace, or even solid walls for that matter. Winters are a difficult and dreadful time for shelter dogs, but we do our best to make the situation as comfortable as possible.
The typical shelter in South Korea consists of rows of outdoor kennels which are constructed from chain link like materials. The dirt floors are bare and the top of the kennel may or may not be covered with a roof, sometimes a makeshift one. The South Korean climate is cold and dry in the winter, a high-pressure system that often results in high winds. Situated in more remote regions, the surrounding areas are often barren with no trees or buildings to protect from drafts and currents.
As there are only structures and no buildings, shelter residents endure life outdoors 365 days a year, in rain or shine, or anything mother nature brings in between. Due to problems of pet overpopulation and homelessness, coupled with low rates of local adoption, many dogs spend their entire lives as shelter dogs never knowing the warmth and comfort of a home.
Winterizing the shelter to make it suitable for cold conditions while operating on limited funds and resources is often a struggle for shelters, many of which will house over 100 dogs at any given time. In order to improve conditions, plastic sheets are used to cover the kennels in order to block wind and snow. Crate pallets are employed to elevate dogs off the cold ground, and lined with fabric in an attempt to make the surface warmer. Dog houses are sometimes used, but are still a luxury for some. In situations where shelters cannot afford to purchase dog houses for their dogs, plastic rubbermaid containers are used and lined with straw for insulation.
Coal briquettes may be used in an attempt to provide some heat to battle the cold, but it is difficult when the are no structures to contain the heat produced. Sweaters and winter jackets serve as the last defense against the bitter cold.
Gearing up for the Upcoming Winter
Over the years, we have done what we could, where we could, to provide winter essentials to our dogs, shelters, and friends in need of a hand. Every year, we collect sweater and jacket donations and ship them to various shelters in Korea to help keep the dogs warm. In 2019, we were able to help purchase approximately 500 coal briquettes along with dog houses and straw, and in 2020 purchased a number of large sized dog winter coats that we delivered directly to the shelters. Due to the popularity of small dog ownership, clothing and supplies for medium and large sized dogs are scarce and sold at a premium. This year, we have another shipment of winter coats and sweaters preparing to be shipped along with some other essential items such as collars, leashes, and harnesses.
A Caring Community
While we always strive to do what we can, we cannot take all the credit. Our ability to help others is a direct result of helping hands from our community and supporters. It is an honor to be at the receiving end of generosity and an even greater privilege to have the ability to give back. We are proud to be a part of such a caring and compassionate community of people who understand that compassion has no borders, and all dogs deserve quality of life no matter where they are in the world.
Written by Sara Liao, Board of Directors & Adoption Manager