The addition of a pet to the family is the beginning of a great adventure. Here’s why adopting a dog is the way to go.
After all, a dog is a man’s (or child’s) best friend and studies show that the simple act of petting a dog leads to lower blood pressure, less stress, and a longer life. Knowing where to get your new pet however can be a bit trickier, so we’ve put together the ultimate Guide to Adopting a Dog in Singapore that’ll have you ready to welcome your new pooch into the fam in no time!
Is my family ready for a dog?
How do you know when you’re ready to adopt or buy a pooch? We spoke to dog behaviourist Marie Choo from D.O.G.S (Dog Owners Guidance Support) and Ricky Yeo, founder of Action for Singapore Dogs to suss out some important considerations you need to keep in mind, mama.
1. Family and home planning
Your children’s age, and whether you are planning to have more children, will help you decide whether the timing is right to welcome a dog into your family. By planning ahead, you are less likely to be overwhelmed by the needs and integration of both your two-legged and four-legged babies into the same home. And if you upsize or downsize your home in future, don’t forget to take Fido into consideration too!
2. Time and financial commitment
“Most children will badger their parents for a dog because it is cute or the parents may dangle a dog as a reward for good grades, but the reality of the menial chores such as feeding, cleaning, and walking the dog must be thought out and managed” says Ricky Yeo. A dog must be considered a family member who will be with you for at least 10 to 15 years. During this time, you (or the person who is the main caretaker) will be responsible for your pup’s financial upkeep, from food and toys to vet fees and medication, and even boarding costs when you’re on holidays.
Marie Choo also reminds us that dogs need plenty of exercise and stimulation to keep them in great health and prevent behavourial problems. “A daily 5-minute walk is just toileting, and not sufficient for exercise,” she admonishes. Depending on the dog’s breed, expect to take your four-legged friend for at least 2 walks of 15-30 minutes every day.
3. What kind of dog do you want?
While some people may have a preference for a particular breed, whether that’s based on prior experience or their own childhood dog, there are plenty of other reasons for choosing one breed over another. Know your basics, as the breed will determine the size, energy and temperament of the dog. Says Ricky, “The family should choose a dog based on the personality and their lifestyle rather than on aesthetics. If the family has a busy schedule, avoid very active dogs like Jack Russells or big, heavy coated dogs such as Border Collies as they require high maintenance and attention.”
Marie adds, “Be sure to involve the whole family, including the maid, when choosing and learning to care for a dog, thereby also teaching your kids to be responsible animal owners in future.”
4. Where will you adopt your dog from?
It’s important to give some thought to where you plan to get your dog from. There are pros and cons for both adopting and buying, so it boils down to your own values and preference.
In general, if you’re buying a dog, be sure to research where it comes from as you want to avoid irresponsible puppy mills. These are commercial high-volume breeding farms where dogs are cramped together, bred often without rest between litters, and do not receive sufficient healthcare, food, water and socialisation. Marie recounts a case of her friends who brought home a pedigreed puppy from a pet shop in Singapore, only to have the poor pup die 3 days later of parvovirus, as the puppy mill where it came from did not adhere to adequate health and breeding standards.
Where to adopt a dog in Singapore
If you’ve made it through our handy checklist and decided that you’re ready to be a good pawrent and adopt a pooch – congratulations mama! Not only are you saving the life of a rescued or homeless dog, you’re helping to stop pet overpopulation by giving a second chance to a former stray or abandoned pet.
The best place to start when looking to adopt your fur-kid is with one of the active and reputable animal welfare groups in Singapore. Most of these long-running groups are passionate about working with strays and are highly experienced in matching you with a suitable doggy. Before you adopt, keep in mind that most groups have a process that includes most of the following: pre-adoption assessment, home stay trial, adoption fees (usually to cover the cost of microchipping, vaccinations, sterilisation and administration), and follow-up visits. These procedures ensure that both Fido and their new family establish good responsible practices that will help the dog adapt to its new environment and family easily.
Image courtesy of Action for Singapore Dogs
Ricky Yeo is one of the tireless pioneers of animal welfare groups in Singapore, setting up Action For Singapore Dogs (ASD) in 2000 to rescue, re-home and sterilise stray and abandoned dogs and give them a second chance at life. Their Adoption & Rescue Centre is not a shelter, but a 54-dog foster facility for dogs waiting to be adopted – instead of kennels, there are roomy dormitories that allow the happy pups to play, interact and exercise. The clever filter on their website helps you identify the traits (such as good with kids) that you’re looking for in your new pet.
Event alert: ASD also runs regular Basic Obedience Foundation classes, comprising 6 x 1.5 hour sessions at $290 ($250 for ASD adopters) to teach dog owners effective communication techniques, along with Amichien Bonding principles, ensuring strong leadership, positive reinforcement and kind correction.
Visits: On weekends by appointment only, 12noon-6pm
Singapore without strays? That has been co-founder Cathy Strong’s indefatigable dream since she began Animal Lovers League (ALL) in 2002, to feed and sterilise stray cats and dog. In 2004, prompted by the culling of strays due to SARS, she set up Pets Villa, a shelter that now looks after about 600 animals when it’s at full capacity. Dedicated volunteers clean, bathe, feed and walk the dogs, and also feed and sterilise strays on a regular basis. Discover your perfect hound here, or just volunteer regularly to give some love to deserving adult and senior dogs (puppies get adopted more quickly!).
Spotting a gap in the community, co-founder Marie Choo mooted the idea of D.O.G.S to not only be a voice for our beloved Fido, but also to assist other dog welfare groups, independent dog rescuers and dog owners. Established in mid 2012, D.O.G.S has raised funds and kibble for dogs in need, re-homed rescued pups, and more importantly, provided rehabilitation sessions to pooches to help overcome their issues and make them more adoptable. Marie herself is a certified dog behaviourist and trainer (when she’s not busy with her day job!). Head to their website to see the dogs that are currently available, as well as any upcoming public awareness programmes.
This non-profit organization aims to raise awareness of the plight of Singapore Specials while also advocating for their adoption in Singapore by rescuing and rehoming them from shelters. EM is an independent organisation that relies purely on donations to sustain its good work. Singapore Specials fostered out through EM have their food and medical provided for through the organisation, so even if you can’t adopt a dog, it is ok to shop by purchasing one of their ‘Save our Singapore Specials’ tees! Be sure to watch out for special events, like Singapore Specials Day, on EM’s Facebook page.
Hands down one of the toughest parts of dog adoption – particularly with puppies – is training. That is decidedly not the case when you adopt a former sniffer dog from Singapore’s Military Working Dogs Unit. This is also a great option for families that would prefer a purebred dog to a mixed breed; you’ll find Springer Spaniels, Labrador Retrievers, German Shepherds and more. All the dogs have gone through basic obedience training, and go through regular health checks by in-house vets, annual vaccinations and a routine heartworm and parasite prevention programme. These dogs have served their country and kept us all safe, why not give them a happy retirement?!
Started in 2011, Save Our Street Dogs (SOSD) hit its turning point in 2013 when it took over the abandoned Madam Yap Shelter and the 26 dogs there that would have otherwise been put to sleep. The team, led by Dr Siew Tuck Wah, finally cleared all hurdles and formed the SOSD Rehabilitation Centre that allowed them to expand their rescue capability by three. With the mission to advocate for integration and acceptance of mongrels into society, they are one of the best resources for our Singapore specials, noting that these dogs are intelligent and healthier due to their genetic makeup, and make for exceedingly loyal and loving pets.
The Singapore Society For The Prevention Of Cruelty To Animals (SPCA) has been in existence since the late 1800s and is one of the most active animal welfare charity groups on the island. They receive around 400 pets and stray animals a month, and service the community through a 24-hour emergency service for sick, injured and very young animals, investigation of cruelty complaints, adoption of rehabilitated animals and public education programmes. The perfect place to pick up your new pooch, you’ll also be giving a future to an animal in need.
June Lee is a sassy aunty (of an adorable niece), travel addict and food writer living in Singapore. She loves cats and dogs equally, and says you should hang out with Bob the Tiong Bahru cat if you’re in the ’hood!
Lead image by SOSD