|Volunteers prepare cages to rescue dogs from a hoarding situation in Gwangju, Gyeonggi Province, in July. / Courtesy of Cody Yoshizawa|
By Eileen Cahill
A Korean animal rights group, Coexistence of Animal Rights on Earth (known as CARE or Thank You Animals), is struggling to care for a group of severely neglected dogs who were being kept at a home in Gwangju, Gyeonggi Province.
CARE removed about 100 dogs from the property in July with the help of about 20 volunteers.
U.S. citizen Helen Marie Bailey, 25, drove to the site with a group of volunteers and assisted in the rescue.
The occupant was under pressure to release the dogs to CARE, she recalls, because their presence had become a human health issue ― liquid from the dogs' body waste was seeping through the floor into the apartment below.
Still, the man was yelling and protesting as the rescuers did their work, Bailey told The Korea Times.
Bailey lives with her husband and their young daughter in Uijeongbu, north of Seoul. A U.S. military spouse, she stays home full-time and expects to be in Korea for another year.
Before coming here in November 2013, she worked as a portrait photographer in San Antonio, Texas, and volunteered for her local animal shelter in her spare time.
The Korea Times also spoke with Nikki (Bora) Lee, a CARE representative, who said the group appreciated the work of all the volunteers, including Bailey, who helped wash the dogs, cut their matted fur and provided food and supplies.
She also spoke highly of Bailey's work as a volunteer photographer during CARE's public outreach events in Seoul.
Bailey described the hoarding scene as "gruesome." The dogs were so fearful the rescuers could barely handle them, she said. Most were schnauzer and terrier mixes. No shelter could take so many dogs on short notice, so CARE had to set up a temporary shelter in Gwangju.
"It is one of those greenhouses that you see all over Korea," Bailey said. "Inside they placed doghouses and panels to elevate the houses from the ground. The location is only available for three months. Past that they will have to pay out of pocket to maintain it."
Since that time, Lee said in a telephone interview, many of the dogs have died because there is no way to prevent fights in the temporary shelter.
However, she said other dogs from the same group had been moved to Seoul. As of this writing, about 50 dogs remain at the temporary shelter, with the others spread out among CARE's adoption centers. Volunteers who are proficient in Korean and experienced with fearful dogs can join weekly volunteer trips to Gwangju on Saturdays, Lee said. Some of the dogs are aggressive, but the majority are scared and timid. The work is often dirty and difficult, according to Lee.
Readers who would like to help CARE in other capacities can join the "CARE Expat Community" Facebook page and check for upcoming volunteer opportunities.
The charity organizes regular trips for English-speaking volunteers to its two adoption centers in Seoul; places are limited and a commitment in advance is required.
Bailey has made two trips to CARE's "Thank You" adoption center, near Dapsimni Station in Seoul, and says she enjoyed her time walking dogs.
In March, she also organized a photo shoot for people and their pets to raise money for the charity.