I arrived in Korea on the 7th of October, a Thursday. By Saturday, I was pestering my husband to drive us to an animal shelter in Asan so I could adopt a dog. There were pages and pages of glorious adoptable pets: curly haired Cocker Spaniels, sandy colored mutts, and Korean national treasure Jindos. I had my eye on a Jindo from the start: she was a mid-sized, bright eyed, white female with the trademark tightly curled tale. We called her Lily.
Having a pet is an incredibly rewarding experience, but there is no doubt that owning a pet abroad may raise some issues you never dreamed of back home. How do you find a vet that speaks English? Are you allowed to transport your pet out of the country when you leave? Is it expensive? Will there be a quarantine period for your pet when you go home?
When we took our newly acquired Lily to the vet, the first thing she told me was that Jindos may not be legally exported from Korea. Fortunately for us, since Lily was a rescue, she had no purebred certifications and she was documented as a Jindo mix, thereby not subject to any export ban. It does go to show you though, that you need to think ahead and ask questions you normally wouldn’t have to ask in a permanent home situation!
Lucky for us Korea has many professional veterinarians, many of whom speak enough English to communicate with you. You can often find good recommendations simply by doing a quick Google search of “vets in Korea.” Since I’ve been in Korea, I’ve found a few useful resources that can help guide you through the transition of exporting a pet home. One of the most comprehensive resources for life in Korea with pets can be found on Korea4Expats, here:
One thing you should remember is that there are very strict guidelines when you leave the country regarding rabies certificates, temperatures, short-nosed breeds, and the carrier in which you transport a pet. I’ve had American citizens call me on the way to the airport wondering if there was anything special they needed to do to take their pet home with them. Don’t wait to the last minute! Take the initiative to check with your airline regarding their pet exportation procedures; check the airport that you will arrive at regarding any quarantine periods; call the vet at least a month in advance so you will have the proper documentation; and lastly, sit back and enjoy the ride, knowing your pet will make it home safely with you.
Here are some additional resources you may find helpful, but as always, please remember it’s always best to check with multiple sources and talk to authorities such as vets, airport quarantine officers, airlines, and more to be certain about regulations.