What is Project ADORE?
Project ADORE (ADOption and REhoming of dogs) is a scheme allowing HDB residents to own local cross breed dogs. It was initiated by Action for Singapore Dogs (ASD) and the Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) and supported by the Ministry of National Development (MND), the Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) and Housing Development Board (HDB). ASD first mooted the idea with the authorities in 2004 to allow HDB dwellers to adopt Singapore Specials but it was unsuccessful. Later SPCA came on board and together we submitted our proposal and succeeded in getting the green light from MND, AVA and HDB to proceed. Project ADORE kicked off in April 2012 as a pilot project and on 28 May 2014, Mr Desmond Lee, the Minister of State for National Development announced the success of Project ADORE and formalised it in Parliament. His speech was reported by various media including Channel NewsAsia, the Straits Times and Today. To be approved under Project ADORE, a dog has to be not more than 50 cm in height (from the shoulder to the ground) and a maximum of 15 kg. As such, we can only ascertain the full-grown size of a dog only when it reaches seven to eight months of age. To find out more about Project Adore, we contacted Wendy, a representative from ASD to share more about Project ADORE through an e-interview. Through this interview, we hope to raise awareness and allow the public to find out more about what these selfless animal shelters have been doing to help these dogs find a forever home.
Q1: When and how did the founders of ASD started ASD?
Action for Singapore Dogs Society (ASD) was established in December 2000 as a non-profit organisation. We were officially registered with the Registry of Societies in 2002 and were granted Charity status in May 2015. We are one of the most established dog welfare groups in Singapore with 450 registered members and a pool of about 400 volunteers. We also have a Facebook audience of more than 34,600 followers.
Q2: What made ASD start PROJECT ADORE (PA)?Our mission is to improve the welfare of stray and abandoned dogs in Singapore and we fulfil this through the rescuing and rehoming of such dogs, advocating sterilisation as a means of controlling the stray dog population, promoting responsible pet ownership, and highlighting the virtues of our local cross breed dogs aka Singapore Specials. We also collaborate with the authorities and other organisations to alleviate the plight of the local stray dog population that is estimated to be between 8,000 and 10,000 currently.
Q3: Which shelter is under PA?The participating Singapore dog shelters are SPCA, ASD, SOSD, Exclusively Mongrels and Causes for Animals.
Q4: Is PA a long term management for these strays?
We envision that Project ADORE will transform the landscape dog ownership in Singapore. In the past, HDB residents were not allowed to own a local cross breed dog aka Singapore Special. Only certain approved breeds of small pedigree dogs were allowed. As about 80% of the Singapore population lives in HDB flats, we realised that HDB dwellers could contribute significantly in reducing the stray dog population if they were allowed to adopt a Singapore Special.
Q5: Any difficulties that the participating dog shelters face?
The demands of managing a non-profit animal welfare group (AWG) are relentless. To keep overheads low, we do not have an office. We only have two full time and two part time staff working at our Adoption and Rescue Centre (ARC) in Lim Chu Kang where we house close to 100 dogs. Many of our residents will spend the rest of their lives there, as some are ill, too traumatised or not “attractive enough” to potential adopters. In addition to the costs of food and maintenance, our veterinary bills can exceed $26,000 per month. Moreover, we also cover the medical expenses for an additional 50 to 60 puppies and dogs which are with other caregivers. For the past 17 years we have relied on donations from the public and we also raise funds through the sales of our calendars and other merchandise, dog obedience courses, and events such as workshops, seminars and social gatherings for dog lovers and their pets. We also rely on Facebook and email appeals to defray the medical costs of some of our more critical rescue cases. We have also been facing the constant pressure of finding homes for our rescued dogs over the years. The situation improved with the introduction of Project ADORE in 2012.
Q6: How well-received is PA in Singapore?Our adoption figures for 2012 rose significantly, with Project ADORE adoptions making up 13% of our total adoptions. The number of Project ADORE adoptions climbed steadily over the years and in 2015, Project ADORE adoptions soared to make up 43% of our total adoptions! We maintained the status quo in 2016 with Project ADORE adoptions making up 42.4 % of our total adoptions. To date, ASD has successfully rehomed 334 dogs under this scheme.
Q7: Any success stories to share?
Yes, one of the success stories feature Smudgey Squirrel from the Choo Family.
"When we first decided to have a dog, we were zooming in on all the toy breeds available as we live in an HDB flat. We were aware that whatever dog we get, it would have to be HDB approved. Hence, whenever we looked around, we would automatically cross out the larger ones even though we had always wanted a bigger four-legged companion. You can imagine our surprise when we went for an ASD adoption drive and realised that a really gentle and sweet brown medium sized mixed local dog named Fa was HDB-approved! Needless to say, Fa whom we renamed Smudgey Squirrel is now a member of the family. Initially, several of my neighbours were a little wary of her because she is not your usual toy breed sized dog but after seeing how she would obediently take lift rides all the way to or from the 14th floor without barking or kicking up a fuss, they were won over. Many have commented that she is a very “guai” (Catonese for obedient) dog. Personality aside, we think it has to do with the compulsory obedience training course that all Project ADORE dogs have to undergo. The course instills in them the ability to listen to simple commands so they can be trained not to engage in behaviour that is threatening to others. However, her bigger size is an advantage too as I (Stacey who is the wife and mum of the family) now feel very safe to be jogging alone in the early mornings with her! Being a Project ADORE adopter, we are convinced that it gives wonderful chances for both the humans and the dog. For those like us who like having bigger dogs, it gives us the chance to be the Mommy or Daddy of one. For the dog, it gives them a chance to be loved and to have a place to call home." ~Choo Family
Q8: What do ASD hope to see in the future?
There is an acute need for more awareness of the plight of our stray dog population. We hope that the authorities will eventually recognise our stray sterilisation efforts and work together with the AWGs in Singapore to reduce our stray dog population by these means instead of culling. More resources, in terms of funding and land to house and care for our rescued dogs, are sorely needed and greatly appreciated. We are also working towards changing society’s perception of our local cross breed dogs. Singapore Specials should be given the recognition that it is a unique breed epitomising the cosmopolitan fabric of Singapore, and be accorded the same respect that pure breed dogs enjoy.
To contribute, volunteer or adopt, contact the participating shelters at the following websites!
Exclusively Mongrels: Website
Causes for Animals: Website