Friday, June 22, 2012

Foreigners and Pets

I am an animal person, kind of. I love visiting my boyfriend's family's farm, where I can help tend to the sheep or play with the two mouser cats (who are good at their jobs, sometimes too good: "Here's a dead shrew for you! I put it in your bed!") or just sit and watch the birds at the feeder outside the kitchen window. When my boyfriend and I get proper jobs and a proper apartment, getting a Norwegian forest cat or a bunny (or both) is at the top of the list.

Blåtand and Björn, the dread mousers of Johannisberg.

Note the conditions in that last sentence: proper jobs. A proper apartment. Getting settled into a stable, adult life. Taking care of another living, sentient creature is a pretty significant responsibility, and not one to be taken haphazardly.

A trend I've seen a lot among hagwon teachers (and, I hate to make gender-based generalizations, but it seems to be among a certain breed of maladjusted and neurotic female teachers) is to get a pet, whether it's a hedgehog from LotteMart or the neighborhood feral cat. Inevitably, the time comes when they have to leave Korea for good, and so the last few months of their stay is a mad scramble to find someone to either adopt the animal from them or to help them shuttle the creature back to the US. Two posts (by the same person) that appeared in the Uijeongbu Facebook group yesterday:
I am looking for a permanent or foster home for a kitten I found the other day. It is pretty urgent as I am leaving Korea very soon and have three cats that I am taking with me already. Please consider this loving baby.

Is anyone flying to Illinois (O’Hare or Midway Airports) anywhere between July and September? I ask because I would like for someone to take one of my cats in cabin with them and then my family would pick the cat up at either one of those airports. I will pay all of the airline fees, health certificate and anything else related to the cat. I would like to know what airline you will be flying so that I can figure out how much they charge, I honestly cannot afford anything over 250$ (just for the cats “ticket”, not including other charges). I am asking this because while I have been here in Korea I have rescued numerous cats and ended up keeping three, when I fly back I am taking two (together) in cargo but I would like the third to go ahead of us just to make it easier on me and the others . I will pay a small sum (all of my money now will be going to getting all the cats home) to whoever decided to take the kitty with them. 
Look, I don't care how much you love cats, do the animal and yourself a favor and don't fucking take one in if you know you're making a transpacific move in the near future. Animals aren't just some cute animated fluffballs that live to cheer up your day. They can experience pain, confusion, distress, and everything about changing owners or going on a long haul flight involves at least two of those three. It's the height of selfishness to take an animal into such a highly transient home just because it makes you feel good.

If the neighborhood feral cat breaks your heart, fine. Take it to a shelter. Pay for its shots and neutering. But deciding to adopt it yourself belies an incredible amount of immaturity; an inability to think in terms of the long term; an assumption that the other people around you will step in and help you clean up your mess. In other words: it's fucking stupid. And cruel to boot. A classic case of exactly how the road to hell is paved.

I guess I'm inadvertently signal-boosting this request, so if you can help this girl out, let me know and I'll give you the details in private.


  1. I love cats but totally agree.

    Get the pets that Korean kids usually have -- turtles or hermit crabs. If you leave the country you could probably just hand it over to one of your students, no problem.

    1. But those aren't cute and fluffy with big wet eyes~~!!