By Liana Jacob
THIS LONDONER flew to South Korea to rescue a dog who had his BACK LEGS CHOPPED OFF for the meat trade – but she insists that HE has SAVED HER TOO.
In June 2017, mental health worker and university student, Rafi Sahin (33) from London, UK, was searching for a rescue dog in the UK and contacted various charities, only to be told they had already been re-homed.
One day she was reading an article about the Yulin dog meat festival in China which lead her onto a Korean organisation’s website called CARE who rescue dogs who survived the dog meat trade and fell in love with a Korean Jindo, called Jindol, who had his back legs chopped off.
She called them up and immediately began the adoption process, which was a surprise to the founders of the charity as they thought his disability would put people off from adopting him. It took around six months of vaccinations, health checks and inspections before Rafi was able to pick him up.
In January 2018, the adoption process was complete, and Rafi decided to travel to Seoul, South Korea to pick Jindol up and she moved him to the UK. Jindol has since adapted to his new life and she says his personality has changed dramatically.
Rafi has two other dogs, a Husky/Samoyed crossbreed named Loki and a French Bulldog called Lyra, who get along with Jindol very well.
When he was first rescued, he was filthy, thin and needed to be nursed back to health; the staff at the shelter bandaged his leg stumps for him to walk more comfortably. Once he was taken to London, Rafi took him to various amputation specialists and is now fundraising for him to undergo a bionic leg procedure so that he can live a pain-free life.
Despite Jindol being rescued by Rafi, she says that having him has improved her life drastically and his journey has inspired her.
“I found Jindol on the website of the shelter (CARE) in Seoul, South Korea who had taken him in from the police after he’d been found on the street with his back legs cut off, starving and terrified of people,” Rafi said.
“It’s not known exactly how his legs were lost but I’ve had several Koreans contact me to tell me that it’s common for meat traders to cut the limbs off dogs to prevent them from escaping and even to torture them before slaughter due to a belief that this tenderises the meat.
“He was lovingly rehabilitated by the charity and was kept in their reception area instead of a kennel to get him used to people again and give him the extra care he needed with his legs.
“He’s now been part of the family since January 2018. He was very nervous at first and we had to slowly gain his trust.
“The rescue organisation had been so excited that he’d had found a home on the other side of the world and that I was going all the way to South Korea to collect him.
“When I arrived at the small shelter it was full of camera crews filming and people he didn’t know. Jindol was really stressed and barking but when I bent down to say hello, he rolled straight over to get his belly rubbed and I knew we were best friends.
“The volunteers at the shelter said he never did this the first time he met new people, so I felt honoured. It had been eighteen months since he was rescued off the street and he was healed and healthy but still nervous.
“When Jindol was first rescued he was taken in by the rescue organisation, he was filthy, very thin and needed to be nursed back to health.
“The rescue team in Korea had shown me how Jindol’s leg stumps had been bandaged but I was sure I could improve on this to make him more comfortable.
“I’ve now been through about four iterations of bandaging techniques and taken advice from tissue viability nurses, amputation specialists and a lot of YouTube videos.
“He still has ups and downs, sores and infections to contend with and he has regular hydrotherapy to manage the impact his condition has but he’s generally a very happy boy.
“I’m currently fundraising for him to have a unique veterinary procedure to have bionic legs surgically attached and help him to live a pain-free life- permanently.”
Rafi has integrated Jindol with her other dogs who at first were submissive, but they all ended up great friends and are now very protective of him.
“Jindol was very timid and nervous when he first arrived; he’d sit alone on his bed at home and flinch when he saw a hand being raised like he assumed he was about to be struck,” she said.
“He’s totally transformed since then; he’s one of the family now – he demands his own spot on the sofa and jumps up himself.
“He follows you around the house, especially where there may be food. He’s a bit nervous still when he’s out somewhere new but he knows his mum and he’ll come to me for reassurance, to feel comforted and he’s soon wagging his tail again.
“Jindol is such a sweet-natured dog; people comment all the time that after everything he’s been through, it’s amazing that he still has so much love and trust in people.
“I didn’t have too much expectation of him being so loving before he came over from Korea as lots of rescue dogs, particularly those who’ve lived on the streets, never show that kind of affection.
“He was very nervous and submissive at first with my other dogs; my little French Bulldog is the boss of the house and she gave him a hard time for the first couple of weeks to make sure he knew the pecking order in the pack but now he loves them both and they’re always curling up together on the sofa.
“My Frenchie is very protective of him now when we go out, I think she knows he can feel a bit vulnerable, and my husky loves to play-fight with him which has really built up his confidence.
“He gets his legs bandaged every morning (and sometimes again later in the day if he’s naughty and gets them wet or chews them).
“I try to make sure he does something fun and stimulating every day so he either goes to a nice park/woods/beach where he can explore off-lead, or we go out somewhere in the city.
“He absolutely adores playing on the beach; the first time I took him to the beach he was so happy it made me cry.
“I wanted Jindol to be able to get the most out of his life and not have his disability hold him back or let his past trauma steal a happy future from him.
“Ten years ago, I suddenly developed epilepsy, turning my life upside down. Fast forward to today and I’ve now also been diagnosed with Ehlers Danlos Syndrome and suffer from painful joints and chronic fatigue which is tough on your body, career, relationships, social life.
“I know from managing pain and unpredictable symptoms with my own conditions that there are times where all you can do is rest and endure and life can’t be normal but making the most of the good days is so important.
“My dogs, and in particular Jindol, have motivated and inspired me. They get me out of the house, exercising and socializing when I’m not feeling great.
“People often ask me what they can do to help dogs like Jindol. There are lots of organisations that support animals in countries with poor animal welfare standards.
“If you can’t adopt from them yourself you can help in other ways; make a donation, sign a petition to lobby for better protective laws.
“Adding to your animal family with a rescue is so rewarding and rehabilitating; a dog that’s never known love creates a truly unique bond.”
Help fund Jindol here: https://www.gofundme.com/f/rescue-dog-jindol-needs-new-legs?utm_medium=copy_link&utm_source=customer&utm_campaign=p_lico+share-sheet