I don't know if it is this time of the year or if it is just a one off, but recently, there has been a surge in emails urging us to take in dogs. I never imagined that would be so many dogs that need rescuing. But that is the sad reality of the matter.
These dogs are from everywhere. Lost pets that have become wandering souls without a home. Beloved pets that have been evicted from HDB dwellings by AVA. Strays born and bred in industrial areas where the authorities have started clamping down on. Dogs captured by SPCA and awaiting that horrible jab that would bring a premature end to vibrant, healthy and in many cases, extremely young, lives.
Each and every dog has a sad, sad story. And it seems all of them need rescuing.
Some emails we receive are brusque and threatening, to the point of ordering us to take the dog in or risk seeing it being sent to SPCA.
But there are many others that are so heartfelt and so desperate that it takes a lot to pen that Rejection letter. When the writers of these emails attach pictures of the poor dog in the mail, it makes it even harder to tell them no. In particular, I received one email from a student beseeching us to take in a dog he befriended at an industrial area. I intend to take up tuition jobs to fund his expenses at the shelter, the email said, if only you would take him in.
Dogs come and go at our shelter as a result of death, the occasional adoption or when those with us for temporary boarding have moved back home. But our maximum capacity is capped at 40 dogs. Different shelters work on different philosophies, but we believe in providing an alternative home for the dogs. Taking in dogs beyond the optimal number at which we can cope may mean that we can save them from impending death. But it also necessarily means that we would be compromising on the quality of life that our dogs have at the shelter.
Life in the shelter is not always better than life on the streets. If the shelter is overcrowded, disease ridden and has a lack of proper amenities due to financial constraints, then life as a wandering stray may not be that much worse off.
Even with the thirty-odd to forty dogs that we have at the shelter, we still constantly struggle to bring all of them for their regular check-ups at the vet, ensure they get at least one good long walk and a proper shower a week and protect them from life-threatening diseases by ensuring proper sanitation and hygiene at the shelter.
Following Daixi and Dollar's passing, we started sending the dogs to the vet in batches to detect for the more prevalent diseases like heartworm and tick fever. Even though we have tried out best to protect the dogs, results of the tests have shown that some of them have nevertheless fallen prey to diseases. Thus far, Denny, Daixin and Dyana have all tested positive for heartworm and have been put on heartworm medication. Meanwhile, Diya and Dakdakdei are carriers of the tick fever strain.
These dogs all need close care, attention and a support system. Medication is often prescribed for consumption twice daily, which means one of us has to be down in the evenings to administer it. Lucky for us, one of our regulars, Chin Leong, has been dutifully helping us out in this area.
We believe in rescuing dogs responsibly. Therefore, we only take in dogs when we are confident of providing them with a better alternative home. Every dog at Gentle Paws is a gift to us - from the temperamental Caspian to naughty (dis)Grace and our quiet Dexter. If we could, we would take in all the dogs in the world. Unfortunately, our resources are limited.
So we hope you understand that it is with the heaviest heart when we tell you that we are unable to take in the poor dogs that need rescuing. But having said that, we're not stopping you from writing in and trying every last ditch attempt to find the dog a home. It is caring individuals like you guys that make our world a much better place to live in.