I stepped out of my grab and saw Christine, a petite lady, walking a big black dog that is almost half her frame. After a quick mutual acknowledgement, Christine cautioned me to keep a distance from her. “He is not that friendly,” she quipped. Pulling my side slung camera towards my chest, I took three steps back. Social distancing has begun.
As soon as Christine stepped down the aisle, those hostile barks turned instantly into soft whimpers—like toddlers whining to their mother. This is precisely why I came, for all aspiring dog mamas and papas to get a guided tour of a dog adoption process in Singapore.
There are seven steps to adopting a dog in Singapore. Unlike a graded examination, the hurdle seems to be highest at the beginning where the weight of consideration is the greatest. Someone once told me “Adoption and buying entail the same level of commitment for the owner, but adoption is life-changing to the little critter. So, always choose adoption.”
It is a common misconception to choose a dog by its breed when one decides to adopt. Adoption dogs, also known as Rescue Dogs or Singapore Special, are not easily determined due to intergeneration breeding since the Kampong days. Hence, labelling this unique species to a specific pure breed—with distinct traits—is misleading and can lead to a mismatch in expectations.
Adopting a Singapore Special should be considered based on two main factors: its temperament and age. Temperament is defined by the dog’s unique traits and pre-existing issues. For example, if the dog forbids the owner from touching its food bowl during its meal, it is unwise to have that dog in a household with a growing child. Furthermore, the dogs’ age is a good indication of their energy level. For instance, older dogs are generally calmer and do not require multiple walks a day. Thus, establishing your commitment level and household dynamics increases the dog-owner compatibility.
Visit the CAS site and get acquainted with the list of adoption-ready dogs. Approximately 25 dogs are waiting to be adopted each time. In the adoption list, you can gather necessary information like its gender, age, medical status, HDB-permissibility, and view a brief write-up on their personality.
It is recommended to shortlist two dogs and commit to them. Choosing your Singapore Special is not like window-shopping; it is a responsibility—which has no room for misinterpretation—to embrace a new member to your household.
After selecting the two dogs which are compatible, you can arrange an appointment with CAS via SMS at 9793 7162 or through email at email@example.com.
All household members, including the caregiver, should be present. This is especially if the family relies on the domestic helper to feed and walk the dog during the week.
The bulk of the appointment is spent interacting with the dog. As interaction is a two-way street—both the adopting household and the dog must feel comfortable with each other’s presence.
During the home visit, the adoption agency doubles up as “interior designers” to ensure that your house is a safe place for your dog. Together with the adoption counsellor, they will review spaces in your home and recommend ways the apartment can be improved to be a safer place for your new member to move around safely. Some safety additions include fixing mesh gates, tucking away cord wires, and keeping fragile items away.
While incorporating the new adjustments, the adopting family must fill up a pre-adoption questionnaire with multiple hypothetical questions. This helps the adopting family pin down their thought process should they be presented with possible roadblocks, which might be deal-breakers to the adoption. This process is not meant to deter but rather, shed a realistic light on the decision-making process.
It is paramount to trust the adoption agency and adopt their professional safety advice. They want the dogs to live and grow in a safe and happy space, and I am sure you do too.
After making the modifications to your house, notify CAS so they can vet it for a final round.
You have reached that one-week homestay with your little friend. At this stage, potential dog owners would have ticked the checklist of interacting comfortably with the dog, building a safe home, and completing the pre-adoption questionnaire.
The week of homestay is not a trial but an onboarding adjustment phase for the dog and the adopting family. It is to necessitate the adoption process and suss out inherent obscure areas that both parties are unable to notice or predict, for example, unidentified allergies of family members or the dog exhibiting signs of separation anxiety after being away from the shelter.
Yes, doggy is finally one step closer to home! At the end of the homestay, CAS will make one last home visit. Once the adoption counsellor considers the match compatible, the adoption process is finalised.
After the adoption is finalised, we proceed to the mandatory administrative drill. The owner receives a Certificate of Adoption, which contains the dog’s microchip and sterilisation details. The adoption certificate is then uploaded to the Animal Veterinary Service (AVS) portal to procure the license.
As HDB-owners fall under Project ADORE—a special initiative to assist HDB families in adopting dogs—CAS can help with the licensing process and subsequently transfer the license to you. On the other hand, for private homeowners, the licensing is made directly by the individual homeowners through the AVS portal. At the end of the statutory process, each dog is tagged to a license with the owner’s name and contact details.
For HDB-owners, attending the Basic Obedience Course is compulsory. For private homeowners, training is not mandatory but highly advocated. More than a basic training course to equip owners, it is a good bonding session. The class is made up of six weekly one-hour sessions over 1.5 months. You can find the recommended positive trainers here.
When I was a child, my sister and I would often badger our parents to get us a dog. In the pestering process, we even attempted to use our academic grades to barter trade our way to a little companion. Looking back, I am thankful my parents didn’t give in because we would have surely been terrible dog parents.
The process sure sounds tedious but I am confident a ready heart and full-fledged willingness will make the cut. So dog mamas and papas, get ready, get equipped so that our furry child can have a great life with you.
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