This article was written by Leo, one of the two people who run the Busan Abandoned Pet Sanctuary. It’s pretty much the only no-kill dog shelter in the Busan-Ulsan area. The article was written in response to some negative comments, and posted on their Facebook page. With Leo’s permission, I’m sharing it here, because I think it’s important stuff to think about – not just for this particular shelter, but for any service run by volunteers with the intention of helping others.
(By Leo Mendoza)
1. BAPS has no full time employees.
I (Leo) have two full time jobs (university teaching and dog kenneling), a part time job (radio production) and multiple free-lance jobs. Jin has two full time jobs (school teaching and dog kenneling). The other person involved regularly is the worker who comes to clean and feed the dogs Tuesday and Thursday, and she receives a small cash stipend from BAPS to cover her transportation and time. She also has a full time job.
2. BAPS has no government or corporate support.
Despite our best efforts, over the past 6 years it has been impossible to find support from anyone other than individuals who donate graciously to BAPS.
3. BAPS costs 2,500,000 per month to run.
Our main expenses are rent, dog food, and regular monthly dog medical supplies. Over the years we have worked hard to be able to buy the food and medicine at great bulk discounts. If we were paying retail prices, the monthly cost would be close to 4 million. BAPS donations are always used towards dogs. All associated costs (transportation, snacks, drinks, management, etc) are paid out of pocket by Leo and Jin.
4. BAPS collects an average of 1,000,000 per month. (now)
From 2008 to 2010 income from other sources was zero.
From 2010 to 2011 income was around 400,000 per month.
From 2011 to 2013 income was around 900,000 per month.
2014 has seen income at a little less than 1,000,000 per month.
The rest of the money needed to pay for the operating of BAPS has come out of Leo and Jin’s pocket. We don’t say this to show off, but to simply lay it down as it is, for all to see.
5. Medical emergencies, spay, neuter, are additional.
Thanks to the support of friendly vets, we pay great discount prices for medical care. Still, even with that help, the medical costs are significant. We spend an average of 5,000,000 a year in emergency medical care plus spay/neuter and heartworm treatments. The great bulk of this money comes from fundraisers organized by volunteers.
6. We know BAPS looks like crap by western standards, but…
We provide a far superior service to our dogs than do just about all the other shelters in Korea. Remember, the government does not support ANY shelters (just pounds).
These are some of the things we have that you will probably not find in other shelters in Korea:
-We vaccinate ALL dogs against every danger found here.
-We provide Heartgard and Frontline to all dogs
-We have a proven history of regular adoption. About 400 so far.
-We have NEVER had a dog get pregnant at BAPS
-We test EVERY dog for safe antibodies levels
-We are 100% No Kill
You’ll just have to take our word for it, but these things are rare in Korea. And they have been damn hard to achieve. Much sweat, sacrifice, and suffering has been spent to get to this level.
7. BAPS does not own our location.
It is a former pig farm, and looks like crap. But BAPS is thoroughly disinfected regularly, and our dogs almost never get skin infections, and we have NEVER had a viral or bacterial outbreak. Of course, we would love to move to a better facility, buy we can’t afford the cost of purchasing land and building a proper shelter. When to comes to renting, the fact is that NO on wants to rent to us. Dogs are loud and smelly, and bring property values down. Hence the pig farm.
8. BAPS will never grow beyond what it is.
This is a hard conclusion we’ve reached after all these years. Every step of running BAPS is a losing fight.
The government will not support dogs in this country. They even refuse to recognize dog shelters as legal charities, and won’t let us register as a charitable organization.
We will never have sustainable donations, because the great majority of people who donate to us are foreigners in Korea, and by definition leave the country after a couple years. No one who’s left has ever donated regularly after departing.
Because it takes time and money to make money, BAPS is incapable of raising money to sustain itself, much less to raise money enough to pay a full time worker, or upgrade facilities. It just isn’t going to happen.
9. Despite all this, the dogs are happy.
Yes, our dogs have to spend months confined in the cages.Yes, our dogs go the entire week without having human contact.
But there’s one key fact: OUR DOGS ARE ALIVE.
These dogs would have all been killed 10 days after arriving to the pound had we not pulled them from there. So what if they have to stay a few months in the cages? When they come out they are happy. They get all the food they need, they are protected from the weather, they have enough space to walk around, and they are socialized with people.
I can cite many, many emails, messages, calls, etc. that Jin and I have received from the families who have adopted a BAPS dog and taken them all over the world. Our dogs are happy and loving parts of these families.
We know that the dogs at BAPS will eventually find their home. It may not be this week, or this month, or perhaps even this year. But they will all live.
10. We won’t quit.
BAPS is a life draining prison for us. It has brought us to the brink of bankruptcy a couple of times. It has drained away all possibility of vacations, hobbies, or even a weekend away. The stress it causes even sent me to the hospital once.
But we do this because we look around and see that NO ONE else is doing it. Thousands of dogs die at the pounds in Busan, and no one else is doing anything. We feel it is our moral duty to give a chance to live to the dogs we can.
We know what your western standards are. We’d love to implement them. But we don’t have the money or the free time to do them. So, here’s a final thought:
When you feel you have the next great ideas for improving BAPS, don’t just say “Leo, you should do X in order for BAPS to grow!” Please consider that your idea costs money I don’t have, and time I don’t have.
If you really want to help, say” Leo, I will do X in order for BAPS to grow!”
THAT’S the kind of action we need. That’s how we got our playgrounds built, the Ulsan fundraiser, and other recent projects that people have enacted.
Whatever happens, we are committed to saving dogs in our local community. This is what we do. We don’t apologize to anyone for BAPS not being up to western standards. This is the best that can be done with zero resources. We do this for the dogs. We do not do it for anything else. The dogs.
(If you are considering adopting a dog, please read this post.)