Adoption Interviews on Non - Profits Shelter Animals

Saving Dogs in Korea and Los Angeles – Interview with Happy Angels Dog Rescue

This non-profit dog rescue based in Los Angeles is dedicated to rescuing, fostering and rehoming dogs. Specializing in small breed dogs, Happy Angels Dog Rescue saves abandoned and neglected dogs from high-kill shelters in Los Angeles [grateful note from Rufino: My best little friend, Ringo, came from Happy Angels!]. Happy Angels Dog Rescue is also the partner of Coexistence of Animal Rights on Earth in South Korea – they save dogs from dog farms where they are raised like cattle and slaughtered for their meat.

The South Korean government has accepted Animal Protection Laws which make animal torture illegal, but those laws have never been properly enforced in the country. The dog meat industry continues to thrive and the officials are reluctant and indifferent to ban it.

Stephanie Jeong shared her insights and knowledge with us. See the written interview below and enjoy!

Happy Angels Dog Rescue  


Twitter: @HappyAnglesDogRescue

Facebook: Happy Angels Dog Rescue

PP: How and when did your adventure in dog rescue begin? 

SJ: While I was in college I volunteered for a few local dog rescue organizations and I was hooked immediately. Once I graduated from college, I had an opportunity to help another S. Korean dog rescue group that needed to place two Korean terrier mixes (mother and daughter) that needed a permanent home. Many mixed Korean breeds have a difficult time finding adoptive families since they are not purebred dogs. I held a fundraiser and raised enough money for both of their one way plane ticket to Los Angeles, and they were placed in a foster home. The foster family fell in love with them and adopted them together. Since then, Happy Angels applied for our 501 c3 status and have been rescuing Los Angeles shelter dogs, and S. Korean dogs.

PP: What continually fascinates you about dog rescue?

Successful adoptions, fascinating adopters, meeting passionate people, having wonderful and reliable volunteers, loving and generous donors, and of course, kisses from our rescue dogs.

PP: Approximately how many dogs do you currently have up for adoption?

Currently about 15 dogs. Usually we only have about 15 dogs for adoption at a time since we have a limited number of foster homes.

PP: Approximately how many dogs have been adopted through Happy Angels Dog Rescue?

We have had more than 200 adoptions since June 2008. We are a small rescue and have been rescuing about 80 dogs per year.

PP: Would you describe your adoption process and how dogs are placed?

Once we receive a strong application, we schedule a meet and greet with the foster parents and potential adopters. If the meeting goes well, and if both rescue dog and family seem like a terrific match, we schedule a home inspection and we bring the rescue dogs with us. The home check can be casual, but we mainly check if the environment is safe and secure for the dog (no gaps between fences, no harmful products for the dogs to get into, etc). If they pass the home check, we finalize the adoption. The adoption process can take about 1-3 weeks, depending on how both adopters and volunteers schedule are. All our dogs are spayed/neutered, microchipped, vet checked, and up to date on their vaccinations before they are placed.

PP: How long is their average stay with you?

An average stay can be anywhere between 2 weeks – 6 months. Some (lucky) dogs get adopted within 24 hours once he/she has been rescued. However we currently have a few dogs that have been in our care for 1-2 years now. No matter how long it takes, they are in good hands at their foster home.

PP: If they don’t stay with you, what do you do?

They always stay in our care and we are always responsible for them. We do not transport them to other rescues, nor do we euthanize them due to lack of foster homes.

PP: Can you describe a rescue experience that has particularly moved or inspired you?

There are too many!

Koa (formerly Ku-Won) was rescued from a dog farm in South Korea that breeds and sells dogs for their meat. At only 2 months old he was attacked by another dog at the farm. The attack left Ku-Won with a terribly damaged front leg; beyond repair or concern of the meat farmer, the leg was amputated. Because of his injured leg, Ku-Won could no longer be sold as ‘healthy’ dog meat, so in June of 2008 the dog farmer voluntarily turned Ku-Won over to our partner animal rescue in South Korea. We raised enough money for his flight to LA, and he received immediate special attention and a much needed re-amputation surgery, Ku-Won healed and was adopted to a loving family in Orange County. Ku-Won was seen as unadoptable in S. Korea due to his disability.

Charlie (formerly, Chun-Ha) is such a brave boy who was rescued from South Korea just in time before somebody was preparing to eat him. Fortunately there was a good Korean witnessing poor Chun-Ha being tortured. It is common for dogs to be tortured before being killed. Unfortunately many people believe that the dog meat will be tender so they make sure the dogs will suffer tremendously. This man forcefully put Chun-Ha in a boiling pot alive. After “convincing” the horrible man to stop what he was doing, Chun-Ha was rescued by our partner s. Korean animal rescue After all he’s been through we expected him to be fearful and traumatized, but Chun-Ha must have the spirit of a lion because he’s happy, energetic and loves being held. He excels at playing fetch. Chun-Ha was transported to Los Angeles from Korea on June 13th, 2008 and was adopted to a family that enjoys outdoor activities with him. Chun-Ha still carries a permanent burnt scar that covers more than 50% of his back where he was boiled alive. Chun-Ha was about 1 yr. old when this happened. He was about 5 years old when he flew to LA. He was seen as unadoptable due to his scar on his back.

Dubu (formerly, Dong-Bek) was rescued from a high kill shelter in Los Angeles. He was attacked by another dog and had to have his one eye removed by the vicious attack. His owners surrendered him to the shelter because they didn’t have the money for his surgery. Despite having only one eye Dong-Bek is very friendly and loves giving kisses to everybody he meets. He walks well on a leash and is playful and loves snuggling in bed with his foster mum. He now lives with a young married couple that has so much love to give, in San Francisco, CA. They love him to death despite him having only one eye.

PP: You feature a project on your website, which caught my attention. You save dogs in South Korea, dogs from farms where they are raised and slaughtered for their meat. Would you please tell us a little more about this?

Amongst the South Korean population that does not eat dog meat a growing segment of proactive supporters has been fighting for animal rights; fighting to bring about the long overdue realization that eating dog meat, a Korean tradition born during times of life-or-death, is now unnecessary and its continued practice is inhumane.

Once rescued from these dog farms, It can be hard for these rescued dogs to find homes in Korea because the majority seeks young puppies of a purebred bloodline, not adult dogs of mixed breeding. Occasionally we have fundraisers for each S. Korean rescue dog’s oneway plane ticket to Los Angeles, since they deserve a loving family they have never experienced.

We also have a partnership with a Pug rescuer, Hye-Sook Kim, in S. Korea. She is the only Pug rescuer in the entire country. Pugs aren’t a desirable breed due to their high energy and excessive shedding. She rescues Pugs in Korea and since they are seen as unadoptable, we have them fly to Los Angeles to find new homes for them.  All our South Korean rescue dogs are spayed/neutered, microchipped, vet checked, and up to date on their vaccinations before they are placed in new homes. They do not need to be quarantined once they arrive, since their Rabies vaccinations are up to date.

PP: How many dogs have you adopted out from Korea?

More than 100 S. Korean dogs, each rescue dog has a unique story and background.

PP: How is the process till the dogs end in their loving homes in the U.S.?

Just like our Los Angeles shelter rescue dogs, they are placed in foster homes once they are rescued in S. Korea. We have a network of volunteers in S. Korea who help us to transport, pull from high kill shelters, and veterinarians who give us a rescue discount : )

PP: What kinds of things do you do to raise awareness about your organization?

We are in the process of designing brochures for Happy Angels Dog Rescue. Once they are ready, they will also be posted on our website to be downloadable. Happy Angels Dog Rescue has been featured in a few newspapers and media from the Korean-American community, and we continue to reach out to them to encourage them to adopt, and not buy puppies from pet shops.

We just participated in an Anti-Korean Dog meat Rally in Long Beach on August 21st 2011. It was a great day to speak with the public and to raise awareness. Koa also particpated, and we also had Kong-Tok, Coco (formerly, Sae-Byok), and Toto participate to show the public “living proof” since they were rescued from dog meat slaughterhouse from S. Korea.

PP: What are the biggest challenges your rescue faces?

Just like any rescue organization, we are in need of donations. We are a 100% volunteer based organization, and the more support we receive, the more rescue dogs we can save, both in Los Angeles and from S. Korea

PP: As a 501(c)3 rescue foundation, can you describe some of the financial hurdles your organization faces in rescuing dogs?

Nobody is paid a salary, but the largest expenses are veterinary fees. Many dogs are rescued with some sort of medical condition; kennel cough, not-fixed, dirty and matted, infested with fleas and ticks, injured with broken bones, injured eyes, skin problems, kidney problems, patella issues, mammary tumor, ear infection, dental problems, etc. 

Our goal is to have them treated and healthy before they are placed in their forever homes, and this can cost a lot of money. Many volunteers from Happy Angels are passionate in rescuing the sick and injured. Another big expense is the airline fees for our S. Korean dogs for their one way ticket to Los Angeles. Occasionally we have fundraisers to raise money for each S. Korean dogs’ airline fees.

PP: What do you need the most for your mission – and how can people get involved?

We need donations, volunteers, and foster homes! Please email us at if you’d like to support us or be involved.

PP: If you could give pet owners one piece of advice what would it be?

Plan ahead! Many pets are surrendered by unexpected circumstances; marriage, moving homes, baby in the family, pet allergies, etc. Pets are a member of the family once they are brought into the home, please please please make sure that everybody in the household agree in adopting the dog. It is unfair for everybody if the dog is unwanted due to the lack of planning. Pets (dogs and cats) can live up to 15+ years. Make sure that the entire family is committed in taking care of the pet no matter what happens! Also keep an up-to-date ID tag and microchip on your pet at all times! Accidents can happen and sadly, it can be difficult to reunite with a pet once he/she has been lost. Please prevent it before it happens.

PP: Do you have a favorite breed? 

I love all breeds, but I have the most experience in Maltese and Pugs.

PP: Do you have pets of your own?

I have two Maltese; Jong-ee (8yrs), Donut (6 yrs.) and Pigeon (Happy Angels Alumni, estimated 14 yrs.) we don’t know exactly how old Pigeon is. She was dumped by her original owners in April 2009, and Truffles, my foster pug.

PP: Which websites or pet related links would you recommend to packpeople? 

Please let your friends, family, neighbors, colleagues know about these two great adoption websites!

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