YONGSAN GARRISON, South Korea — Think twice before buying a pet in South Korea, animal care workers at U.S. bases say.

They say they frequently treat sick pets bought from off-base stores and breeders that should never have sold them in the first place.

“Unfortunately, (owners) are usually getting a dying puppy before they see it,” said Capt. Jared Madden, officer in charge of Yongsan Garrison’s veterinary clinic.

Danni Armstrong, volunteer coordinator for the Osan Veterinary Treatment Facility and Osan Animal Shelter, said pet store owners often tell customers that a puppy is 2 or 3 months old when it actually is only 4 to 6 weeks old and still has a weak immune system.

And many haven’t been vaccinated or de-wormed.

In the United States, puppies typically are not sold until they are 8 weeks old, Armstrong said.

Some people get a pet without thinking about the difficulties of having an animal while deployed.

“Are you absolutely sure you want to adopt a puppy while you’re here?” said Osan veterinarian Capt. Rachel Hedlin. “Is it really their priority to have it here in Korea?”

She said most servicemembers are stationed in South Korea for only one or two years, and buying a pet is a decision they make on impulse, without thinking about whether they can care for it adequately.

“Definitely think long and hard about it,” she said. “If one person wants a new pet and one person doesn’t, maybe you shouldn’t get it.”

If you do decide to buy or adopt an animal, there are some things to consider:

How many hours you work?How much time you can to devote time to a new pet?Are there are other pets in the household?How much it will cost to ship the pet to the United States when you move?“If you live in a house or high-rise apartment, you don’t want to buy a beagle or a husky or something like that,” Hedlin said.

Military officials say it’s best to adopt an animal from your installation’s stray animal shelter instead of buying one off-base. The animals may be older, but they’re usually recovered strays or pets given up with their owners move, and are healthy, said Maj. Ronald Powell, veterinarian at Yongsan Garrison.

“If they do, they need to look very closely at other options like adoption,” he said. “Generally speaking, you’re going to get a healthy pet.”

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