I did a little research while trying to come up with some publicity materials for the Adoption Drive. Let me just share with you the fruits of what I found. We often bemoan the sorry state of adoption rates and how Singaporeans are just not enlightened enough about the shelter scene in their country. I've found some official figures to back up our claim.
In an interview conducted with Deidre Moss of SPCA in November 2007, she stated that 60-70 dogs are abandoned and sent to SPCA every month. Just think about it. 60-70 dogs are sent to SPCA alone each month. What about the rest that are illegally let loose into the wild, kicked out from the warmth of their home and left to scavenge the streets for scraps of food for survival? What about the breeder dogs that are thrown away after they can no longer reproduce?
In a speech given by Dr. Mohamed Maliki bin Osman, the parliamentary secretary for national development, at the opening of AVA's responsible pet ownership roadshow in November 2007, he stated that 53,000 households in Singapore keep dogs as pets. Each year over 5,000 dogs end up unwanted and abandoned. This effectively means that over 9.5% of all dog owners eventually abandon their dog. To me, that's a shocking figure and it just goes to show how little thought dog owners put into the idea of getting a dog.
Since our adoption drive is just around the corner, this is as good a time as any to report these figures. They are slightly dated, but they are what I can find with my mediocre research skills! For all we know, the figures might have risen given the poor state of the economy the past few years. What I want to say is... you can't necessarily know everything about a dog before you adopt it. But one thing you can evaluate with a relatively high degree of accuracy is yourself. Before you buy or adopt, conduct your due diligence. Know what getting a dog involves. Be determined and well-equipped for the commitment that getting a dog involves. A dog can give you much but only if you are ready to receive all he/she has to give.
Another thing I want to address is the topic of mongrels. As I was doing up the adoption catalogue featuring all our dogs at the shelter in preparation for this adoption drive (email us if you want a copy), I couldn't help noticing that almost all our dogs are mutts - mixed breed dogs with a complicated line of ancestry. It frustrates me that finding an adopter who loves mutts like we do is like finding a needle in a haystack. I love dogs. But most of all I love mongrels. No two mongrels look alike. They are unique in their very own way and not a cookie-cutter canine like so many out there. Besides, not all breeds are "pure" from the start. Many cross-breeds have been recognised as a breed standing on its own because people have embraced and accepted the mixture whole-heartedly and their popularity became widespread. The Labrador Retriever is a good example. Call me sensitive, but I feel the word "mongrel" alone sounds derogatory. A dog is a dog is a dog whatever breed it is. A mutt will look at you with eyes as loyal as a pure bred's. A mutt can and will, too, accompany you in good times and bad. I absolutely love mutts or mongrels or whatever you call them. I just wish that more people can see that being a dog of mixed breed is not in any way a disadvantage.
A mutt that is also a one-time shelter dog has even more to give. The loyalty and the love you will receive from him/her will probably be greater and more all-encompassing. A shelter dog has probably been down in the dumps at some point in his or her life. It has been exposed to the very worse that life can dole out. When you adopt a shelter dog and bring him/her into your home - and heart - he/she knows what you have done for it. And so, it will give back doubly. I don't know if I'm being a tad dramatic but having been at the shelter doing volunteer work for almost 2 years, I have read and researched some. . And this is what they all seem to be telling me. Yes, certainly it takes some time for the shelter dog to get used to life at home. Yes, it can be a little difficult at the start. But once you gain his/her trust, once they know that you're here to stay, they will love you with all their canine heart.
So please, when you are considering adopting, know that the mutts at Gentle Paws and everywhere else, are, too, a candidate that you can think about. Like all other dogs, this bunch are longing for a place in your heart and your home. If you are willing to persevere, if you are willing to hold on to these dogs and never let go, we think that adopting a shelter dog will be a journey that you will never regret.
If you're interested...
Here is the link for Deidre Moss's speech: http://www.channelnewsasia.com/stories/singaporelocalnews/view/270640/1/.html
Here is the link for Dr. Mohamed Maliki bin Osman's speech: