While in Jeongdongjin, a small city in South Korea, in February 2016, a man noticed Dong-Jin tied up on a property. Dong-Jin was a Samoyed, a type of dog known for having white, fluffy fur but Dong-Jin was nearly bald.
The man was surprised that Dong-Jin was still alive. The dog hadn’t eaten a good meal in months, and he barely had enough strength to stand. He could hardly walk and also had a bad case of demodex mange that made most of his fur fall out.
“The dog was very sick and there was obviously something very wrong with him,” Ek Park, founder of Free Korean Dogs, an organization that rescues dogs from South Korea and rehomes them in North America. “It was a very tough situation.”
The man confronted the owner and asked for the dog, the owner refused to give Dong-Jin to him until the man threatened to report the owner for animal cruelty. He finally agreed to surrender the dog to him.
The man whisked Dong-Jin to an emergency vet clinic. The dog was in such bad shape, the vet team wasn’t certain they could save his life.
“The vet said, ‘His body is pretty much dead, so we don’t know if he can endure any medication or any treatments,’” Park said.
They tried their best and, to everyone’s surprise, Dong-Jin started to improve and slowly gained weight and his fur grew in.
“In four months, we saw a big difference,” Park said. “Then, after six months, he became like a normal dog.”
As soon as Dong-Jin was well enough to leave the vet clinic, he went into foster care at a private shelter in South Korea.
“He was with a lot of dogs and he loved being with them,” Park said. “He was very happy. He knew he was in a safe place.”
Shortly after Park posted Dong-Jin’s profile on the Free Korean Dogs website, when a family in Vancouver, Canada responded. They were smitten with Dong-Jin, who had gained about 30 pounds and had a thick mane of white fur by now. “They saw photos of him and felt that he was very special,” Park said.
Although many people applied to adopt Dong-Jin, Park felt that the family in Vancouver was the best fit for him.
“They had a beautiful house and a backyard,” Park said. “The mom is a writer and she works from home, so Dong-Jin wouldn’t be alone.”
So this past September, Dong-Jin was loaded into a travel crate and flown to Vancouver to meet his new family.
“He’s totally spoiled now,” Park said. “He loves people so much. He’s very sweet and gentle.”
Not only does Dong-Jin have a loving mom and dad, but he has a new dog sibling, too, whom he adores.
“It’s fantastic,” Park said. “When I see pictures of Dong-Jin running around on the green grass, nothing makes me happier.”
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