After last year’s horrible year being away from our dog, Josh and I decided that this year we would do whatever it took to bring her on our second year in Korea. Bringing a dog anywhere away from home is a struggle but when you’re moving them half way across the world it’s quite a bit of work….but in the end it was more than worth it.
Where to begin!!! First off if you’re planning on bringing a dog to South Korea then you should start with all the paperwork as soon as you can. There are many steps to bringing your dog to South Korea from the United States, to try and make this post more organized I’ll divide it into 4 sections: Paperwork, Crate Prep, Job Selection and Tips.
- First you will need to get a dog Rabies Titer results that show your dog has at least .5 IU/mL of rabies antibodies in their blood (check with your vet on this because our vet told us the dogs would need to get the rabies vaccine re-administered even though they were current just to make sure they had a high enough level of antibodies in their system). The Titer results can take a few weeks to get back so make sure to start this process with plenty of time before your contract start date. Also you need to check which lab your vet is sending the blood to be checked at since once a few labs in the country are accepted by Korea.
- The second form you need is a valid Rabies certificate, which you can get from your vet.
- Third you will need an International Health Certificate. Our vet back home in California was a little confused on what health certificate she needed to fill out so I called our local USDA office and they informed me it was an APHIS Form 7001. Once your vet fills out this paperwork you will need to take it to your State’s USDA office to get it an official stamp. I really don’t understand this part of the procedure as the USDA office doesn’t even see the animal but it is a necessary step and costly…our visit cost us $120. You can look for all the locations of the USDA offices on their website. Usually for each state there is one location, but when I called the Sacramento office they told me there was a Los Angeles location which was much closer to me.
** Going through this process is a pretty complicated and frustrating one… I would highly recommend if you have any questions or concerns along the way in terms of paperwork and what you need to contact your local USDA office. Out of everyone I spoke with along this journey they were the most helpful on the exact forms we needed.**
If your dog is too big to travel in cabin then you will need to make sure to get a crate that is airline approved and has enough room for them to comfortably stand and turn around in. We purchased our crate from Amazon a couple months before we had planned on taking Aurora abroad. The airlines require that the crates have metal windows on all sides. Since Josh and I were paranoid about Aurora being lost somewhere along the journey we made sure to attach numerous pictures of her, along with a contact number for the US and South Korea and her paperwork to her crate. This isn’t a necessary step but one I would recommend just in case your animal gets lost on the journey.
Inside the crate we padded it with reusable pee pads as thick as we could find to provide absorbency should she need go to the bathroom and to give her some padding on her journey. We also attached small bowls for water and food. We figured she wouldn’t want any of it during the journey but just in case we didn’t want her to be deprived. In the water dish I put in ice cubes so that they would slowly melt during the journey. Her water was all gone when I picked her up in Seoul, but she hadn’t touched her food. Aurora is a little bit particular on her bathroom facilities held her number ones and twos for the entire 16 hours she was in the crate but she did throw up somewhere along the way….which I’m not surprised at since our journey was filled with turbulence. Something I didn’t do but would recommend for your crate is to velcro the pee pads to the bottom of the crate. I found in transit the pads bunched up and slid around.
Since Josh and I were planning on taking Aurora on our first year in Korea we already had a majority of her crate prepared. Something I would recommend is to begin your dog’s crate training a few months before you plan to leave. Just give them free access to the crate and maybe lock them away for short periods of time with some treats so they are comfortable with the crate. And in terms of sizing I would recommend if you are stuck between the crate being a little on the small or large size to go with the larger crate. I was against this because I thought it would be less convenient to transport when I arrived in Korea but luckily Josh won out on this argument and we went with the larger size. In the long run my inconvenience is nothing compared to her discomfort and I’m glad she was a little more comfortable on her journey.
Now this is a tricky portion of the process. Recently the public school programs in Korea are no longer picking candidates who want to bring over an animal. Josh and I spoke with several recruiters that told us this. However, if you talk directly with the school this policy may be a little different. I have heard of people who adopt animals once they are in Korea without any real issues with their school. Most likely when you go are going through the interview process you will be working with a recruiter before you speak with the schools. I would recommend telling the recruiter that you are planning on bringing a dog with you. They will then look for positions for you that will allow for the dog. Overall I think it’s much easier to work at a hagwon (private school) if you plan on bringing over an animal. The private schools can be more accommodating than a public school. I will say that many schools will just reject you right away because they automatically think you are going to bring over an animal that will just bark all day and pee all over the apartment. But, it is worth waiting it out to find an animal friendly position. It took a little while but Josh and I were both able to secure teaching jobs where we were allowed to bring a dog with us.
I would also recommend doing some research on where you will be living so you can be sure you are near some parks or grass for your dog. Even in Seoul it is possible to live near parks and grassy areas, you just need to be sure to check on the area before you move. I have been to places in Seoul that were near parks and I have been in neighborhoods were there is no grass to be found.
Here are some tips we learned along the way, maybe they can help someone out. Heart worm medication is really expensive in Korea, we made sure to purchase a year supply from out vet right before leaving. I have heard that you can order heart worm medication from Canadian pharmacies and they will ship to Korea without a prescription, but I’ve never done this myself. If you’re bringing over a dog that will need to be put into the cargo area then you can put some dog food into a large bag and tape it on top of the crate. This can save you some valuable weight when packing your suitcases. Anything you might need that is larger breed specific you might want to bring with you. For example, clothing and pet beds for a bigger dog might be a little harder to find or more expensive in Korea so you might consider bringing them with you. For our dog we made sure to bring with her a rain coat. It looked pretty ridiculous on but really helped out when it was pouring down rain all day and she needed to take care of business.
Hopefully this helps someone out whose thinking about moving to Korea with their pet!!! Aurora really did adjust quickly from being a suburban dog with a house and backyard to living in an apartment and going out for walks in the park.