When I was young, I always wanted a pet. I was so desperate, I would sometimes daydream about an unexpected encounter with a puppy in the street. Without knowing how much responsibility it took to raise a pet, I continued to beg for one. After a few years of pleading, my parents decided to adopt a puppy from a pet shop. With my childhood dream coming true, I felt like I was on top of the world. As our family got closer and closer to our new family member, we naturally started to pay attention to issues related to abandoned animals and pet shop adoptions.
As we got more interested in stray animals, we realized that the problems related to abandoned pets were bigger than we thought. Reckless and irresponsible owners turned their backs on their own pets in cruel ways. Every time the news showed an unbelievable story of such owners and animals, I was so heartbroken and felt like I should do something for them. Two years after adopting our first pet dog, my family decided to adopt another pet from the shelter. At first, the two dogs in our house had a hard time getting close to each other. Not only that, I also didn’t know how to interact with our newest dog, since anything could hurt his feelings. A few months after he joined our family, however, he looked and acted like he had always felt at home around us. He was bony and also coughed a lot because he had been staying with countless other dogs in the small shelter. After staying at our house for a few months, he looked much better. Having witnessed that dramatic change, I thought that the other animals at the shelter deserved to enjoy the same care and love that our dog had benefited from.
|[A picture of the dogs staying at the clinic. Photo courtesy of Racheal Chung]|
However, it was challenging to find a place where I could help because of the coronavirus pandemic, and I began to lose hope in finding an available shelter. Before completely giving up, I asked my aunt if she knew anywhere that needed a volunteer. She told me that she was actually volunteering as a dog walker at a veterinary clinic, and that she would take me if I wanted to take part. Two days later, I visited the clinic with my aunt. I was overjoyed by the thought that I could finally take action. Before meeting the dog and preparing for the walk, we had an opportunity to look around the clinic. There were about six dogs, and we could see that they were staying in a clean and secure environment.
|[Filling out the form. Photo courtesy of Racheal Chung]|
Before the volunteering session, I had to fill out a form where I had to write my name, date and time, phone number, and the name of the dog I was going to be walking with. After filling out the form, I took a walk with a dog named “Raon.” I took her around the apartment complex across from the clinic. However, her wariness made it very hard for me to approach her. I had to be understanding of this, since some abandoned animals have traumatic memories that make them distrust people. During the walk with Raon, I was delighted that I was finally able to give a helping hand.
|[Photo my aunt took during the walk. Photo courtesy of Racheal Chung]|
During and after the short walk I had, I thought of some other things people could do to help out some organizations or clinics that deal with abandoned animals. Animals are just like human beings. They sense and know everything that is going on, and they deserve more respect. What I did, taking a brief walk, might be nothing compared to other volunteering activities, but I would like more people to be attentive to stray animals. I really want to encourage you to go out and volunteer when this pandemic situation gets better.
Seoul Scholars International
Racheal Chung firstname.lastname@example.org