Sunday, July 17, 2011

The Doggy in the Window

The topic of adoption can be the most thorny thing. On one paw, we yearn for our dogs to find good owners and homes to last a lifetime. On the other, we have to keep our enthusiasm in check and protect our dogs by carefully assessing any potential adopters.

The balance struck can be very delicate, which is what makes the issue of adoption so difficult.

Our dogs need a home. Only by finally finding our dogs a home does the whole process of dog rescue come a full circle. Finding our dogs a home also means we have more space to rescue even more dogs. 

But that does not mean we are prepared to shove our dogs in the faces of just about any adopter who steps up for a possible adoption. 

We oversee the lodging, health and general welfare of the furkids at Gentle Paws. We are in effect the guardians of each and every dog under our humble roof. They rely on us to weed out the bad adopters, leaving only the good ones. They entrust their future and their lives to us.

Any mistake on our part in carrying this out can lead to the most devastating consequences. 

Dillon, Daelle and Dakdakdei are real life evidence of adoptions gone wrong. And because they have, we have to live with the guilt of knowing we could have done better in assessing the adopters. We could have saved these three a whole lot of heartache by asking their adopters the difficult questions, carrying out home visits, conducting detailed interviews and implementing an adoption fee. 

Instead, in our eagerness to see our puppies off to human homes, we took the leap of faith and allowed adopters who stepped forward to simply take our dogs away. 

When they were returned to the shelter, they had inevitably gotten used to a warm human home. The adjustment period was the absolute pits. Dakdakdei came back, rejected by his brothers and spurned by his canine friends. Dillon came back malnourished and skinny to the bone. Daelle returned not once, but twice, not because of anything he did wrong, but because the adopters simply changed their minds. After depositing the dogs at the shelter once more, not a single one of these adopters came back to visit the three of them. 

DDD when he first came: Terrified, with his tail tucked between his legs

Upon return, we found Dillon was nothing more than a bag of bones

It's not just the adopters of these three dogs with whom we have had bad experiences. It is the cavalier attitude some people take towards dog ownership that worries us.  Donna was taken as a puppy and returned after a family disagreement. Didi called the toilet as his home for three long years. Dozer got pushed off a car on an expressway. 

With such a track record, we became quite disillusioned with the whole idea of adoption. What risk were we taking in allowing a complete stranger to bring our baby home? On one hand, taking such a risk presented our dogs with a chance of a good home. This new face might possibly turn out to be the most loving adopter ever. On the other, what lurks behind the face might be someone careless, someone who wants a dog on a whim, someone who is most likely to change his mind after a month or two or worst, someone who will take his anger out on the dog. 

We have taken quite some time to pause and reflect. At the same time, in order not to deny our dogs a chance at adoption and to provide them with as much exposure as possible, we also launched the adoption portal. 

Now, after having thought carefully about adoption matters, we have come up with clear guidelines for adoption at Gentle Paws. We hope the guidelines are both fair towards adopters and adequate in protecting our dogs. 

1) Getting to know you
Upon receiving an email that there is an interested adopter, we would require the adopter to direct their thoughts to certain questions such as the type of dog they want in terms of breed, size and temperament. We would also need the adopter to be prepared to receive questions on their financial state, the type of house they live in, if they have support of their family in this venture, the type of lifestyle they lead, if they have any pets now or if they have had any pets previously. If any of the questions are found to be intrusive, we seek understanding. These questions are essential in aiding us to assess the adopter's suitability in adopting as well as in helping us to match the adopter with a suitable dog. 

2) Shelter visit
We would then invite the potential adopter for a visit to the shelter. Having the desired type of dog in mind, we would then proceed to match the adopter with a few different dogs at the shelter. The adopter can spend time interacting with each dog, be it walking them or simply settling down with them at the shelter.

3) Home stay
If all is good, we would proceed to arrange a short home stay for the dog in question with the adopter. The homes stay is usually over a weekend or for a whole week, subject to discussion. I can't begin to tell you how useful home stays are. In these few short days, it gives the adopter a clearer idea of what it truly means to have a dog in your life. It also gives the adopter a chance to bond with the dog. 

Though the length of the home stay will probably be too short for the adopter to get the full experience of dog ownership, it is sufficient for the adopter to decide whether or not they want to go on with the adoption.

4) House visit 
If the home stay turns out successful and the adopter remains interested, we would arrange for a visit to the adopter's house. This gives us a chance to chat with the adopter's family members and have some idea of the environment in which our dog would be leading his/her new life. 

 5) Adoption agreement
If the adopter is happy and intends to go on with the adoption, they would be required to sign an adoption agreement. The agreement would contain basic clauses such as the requirement to treat the dog in a humane manner, to keep the dog as a house pet and not a guard dog, to allow home visits in the lifetime of the dog, to keep the shelter informed of any critical illness or the death of the dog and to keep the shelter informed in the event the dog goes missing. Probably the most significant clause is for the adopter to return the dog back to the shelter at no charge should they decide to give the dog up. 

6) Adoption fee
There would also be a token adoption fee of $150. We didn't use to require such fees. But we realised that to some extent, the implementation of such fees did help us to weed out the insincere adopters from those genuinely in search of a pet. This sum would go toward the expenses of the next dog we rescue by helping to cover any sterilisation and vaccination costs. In a way, by paying the adoption fee, the adopter would effectively be "paying it forward". 

7) Post-adoption visits
We would give the adopter and their newest family member some time to settle down to their new lives. Thereafter, we would arrange home visits with the adopter to seek out our furry friend and check up on his/her well-being. The adopted dog may have left the shelter for greener pastures but he/she is always going to be our friend for life.

And that brings us to the end of the whole adoption process. If such a process sounds too unwieldy and tedious for you, then we are guessing that you are probably not cut out for adoption just yet. Adopting dog is precisely such a tedious process. When you set out to adopt a dog, you must be mentally prepared that it is not as simple as going to the shelter, picking a dog from behind the fence and bringing it back home. 

This is how Daelle looked like when he was returned to the shelter - wistful, forlorn and utterly confused. 

Our dogs are shelter dogs... but it doesn't mean they deserve second class treatment or for this matter, a second class, shabby adoption procedure. They're not freebies up for grabs simply because they are shelter dogs. On the contrary, each and every one of them is a gem to be cherished dearly. We hope you find our adoption guidelines reasonable. The adoption procedure we have chosen is not unique. In fact, it is one that is commonly used in shelters all over the world. 

This is how Daelle should look like. 

Adoptions are great. They can transform a dog's life completely. We are not in search of the perfect adopter. We do know that adoption is a journey of trial and error for both the dog and the adopter. All we ask for is an adopter who, having set his heart on the dog, never gives up on it. We, at Gentle Paws, are happy to work with adopters to make the adoption a successful one.

For every good adopter, they is bound to be a bad one. There is no one to watch over the shelter dogs but us. In adhering to this adoption process, we hope to find the right balance between promoting adoption and protecting our very precious furkids. 

If you have any more queries on adoption, please direct them to 
Our adoption portal can be found at


  1. email me

    give me more infomation and picture of a dog something like melanie or corgi... something cute and small age below 6month old.

  2. Are there any small dogs like mini dachshunds or chihuahuas at Gentle Paws? Cos I would like to adopt at least a dog from there, but I live in an apartment and cross breeds can't live there...
    Contact me via

  3. i looking for puppy to adopt. not more than 3 mths. white in color.
    pls email:

  4. hello i am looking for golden retriver
    pls contact me at 98275038 or

  5. hi im looking to adopt a dog less than 3 years old HDB approve. do contact me 91057672

  6. Hi, im looking for a suitable puppy for adoption^^ as im living in a HDB flat^^ and whr are uu located?^^ i cant find the address :p sorrie. Contact me at 96522214^^ thank uu

  7. my friend dog is lost do u have it? its in silver colour like golden retrienver buts is silver

  8. Hello. I am looking for a puppy for adoption. i am living in a HDB Flat. i would love it if you could contact me at 94303693! I am a dog lover and am very keen in adopting one!

  9. Hi i would like to know if the Island Puppies are still available for adoption. Do reply me at

    Thank U

  10. Hi I'm actually looking for a dog for adoption, The only citeria it got to be HDB approve. =) If u do have any dogs to recommend plz do drop me an email at

  11. Hello I am looking for puppy to adopt. Preferably male and white and >1 year old. I lived in a HDB flat. If there is any puppies that meet these criteria please send me an e-mail through Thank you very much.

  12. Hi, I'm looking to adopt a black male cross breed puppy (1-2months). Do email me at of there are any puppies available. Thanks!

  13. Hi, I have currently just finished my O lvls and my family and I are looking to adopt preferably a toy poodle in brown! I have been a dog lover since young and visits the dogpark at bishan park frequently on weekends to mingle with the cute companions! My parents wanted me to finish my O's before proceeding to adopt a dog, thus now I'm restarting the search! Do email me at if there are any suitable brown toy poodle up for adoption! Hope to hear from you soon, thks! :)

  14. Hi, im looking for a husky for adoption. Just asking around whether you have any husky at your shelter? :)

  15. Hi , my family and I are looking to adopt a male puppy. Preferable 3-5 months old. We are looking for a Jap Spitz , volpino Italian , a pom , Shetland or small Spitz. If there are other puppies up for adoption , do drop me a message at 91006199. Tks

  16. Hi, im looking to adopt any small breed puppies, preferably a pomeranian, less then 1 year old, email me at thanks :)

  17. Really disturbing.
    What wrong with some many people coming here to look for predigree breed?
    If you wish to adopt a dog, why don't you come to the shelter to walk the dog instead of posting here?

  18. Hi, I am interested in adopting a male beagle( landlady won't allow a female)below 4 yrs of age. Can only keep a mid sized dog dog as a large one is not allowed either.A spaniel or any other mid sized dog will also be fine. Have had mongrels and cross breeds all my life but this is for my son who wants one of these breeds.Do sms me at 90027839 if there are any dogs up for adoption.

  19. Really sad the number of people here specifically asking for pure breeds, and for PUPPIES!! Would anyone reasonably assume that these are the dogs most in need of homes and would be found in shelters?? Shelters take in cross breeds, or pure breeds abandoned because of old age, health problems, etc. Would a true dog lover insist on a shiny pure-breed puppy? Or would he/she look for a dog who is in most desperate need of a home? There are many advantages to adopting adults, and cross breeds. Puppies are a lot of work and will outgrow their cuteness very quickly. Adults are equally if not more loving and ever so grateful if you give them a home after they know the hardship of living on the street or living in a shelter! And cross-breeds are the BEST because they are the most loyal smartest and HEALTHIEST dogs in the world in my opinion. I know because I adopted FOUR adult mongrels and everybody marvels at how beautiful and well-behaved they are! They follow me everywhere even into the bathroom because they don't want to let me out of their sight! That is the extent of their love and attachment! So if anyone is really interested take time to volunteer at a shelter and get to know the dogs there. I guarantee you will find your true love!

  20. Hi, I would like to particpate in the walk a dog pleage (is it still on going?), please sent more information to


    Irene Lim

  21. I would like to adopt a puppy, preferably 1years old and below, schnauzer . have experience with dogs, contact me at

  22. Hello! I am looking for a puppy to adopt, preferably a dog with a positive attitude yet calm and very loving. I have a shih tzu myself, about 4 years old now. Please contact me at hope to hear from you soon!^^


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