So you clicked on this tab and were led to this page. Great! This must mean that the thought of adoption crossed your mind at one point or another. You must have been curious.
The word "adopt" is derived from the Latin words "ad" and "optare". Together, the words mean "to choose". It doesn't often occur to those looking to add a dog to the family that adoption is a viable avenue. As opposed to buying a puppy from a pet shop or a breeder, you can too choose to adopt.
We won't embellish the truth and tell you that adoption is going to be a breeze. What we will tell you however is that - adopting a dog is going to be a journey. It's going to be rough at first, rocky at some parts along the way but wonderful and so very rewarding at the end of it all.
What should you expect when you adopt a shelter dog from us?
We can't speak for others. But at our shelter, most of our dogs are mongrels. The majority of them are stray dogs rescued from a variety of places such as construction sites, industrial estates, heavy vehicle car parks and undeveloped forests.
So the first question we usually ask when we receive an adoption enquiry is - are you fine with mongrels?
Mongrel is not a derogatory word. It merely means dog as nature intended it to be, before artificial breeding was introduced by humans hundreds of years ago. They are just as intelligent and loyal as pure bred dogs and no less adaptable to a domestic environment.
If you are above breed bias, we are happy to move forward in the process with you.
Your next concern would then be the size of the dog and your type of residence.
As you may be aware, our public housing policy only allows ownership of certain small breeds of dogs. In respect of mongrels, the Project Adore scheme launched by AVA, MND and HDB was recently made permanent. Under the guidelines, there are certain restrictions pertaining to the height and weight of the dog. Potential adopters must also comply with a Code of Responsible Behaviour and enrol in mandatory basic obedience training classes with the dog.
While we are not one of the groups designated under the Project, SPCA has kindly advised that we are able to link up with them if you reside in a HDB flat and are interested in adopting one of our dogs that may meet the criteria of the Project.
At the end of the day, we assess the feasibility of adoption of our dogs by HDB dwellers on a case by case basis. It may be the case that there is someone at home all day to watch over the dog. It may also be that the dog's temperament or age makes it suitable for residence in a HDB flat. If you are determined to make the adoption work, we are pleased to provide the necessary help and support along the way. We can't tell you how much we yearn for good homes for all our dogs.
Finally, what makes a shelter dog different? What should you keep in mind when your new family member comes from a shelter?
A shelter dog is one that has not had the most comfortable of lives. Their days as a stray taught them to lay low to elude dog catchers and avoid jeopardising their safety. At the shelter, they grow to trust people, learn to walk on leash, play fetch, go for outings to the beach and generally live amongst our midst. But they still have to deal with the stress of living with many other dogs at the shelter. For long intervals during the day, there isn't any one around at the shelter but the dogs.
Shelter dogs need your patience and empathy in making the adjustment to your home. They need the chance to get to know you and find its place in your family. Would this be just another temporary pit stop in the amazing race of its life? Or are these people and this home here for good? The dog will be scared at first, gradually grow comfortable and then try to test the boundaries. It will bring you and your family lots of trouble and exasperation but also lots of joy, laughter and amusement. Most of all, it will teach you how to be kind, loving, devoted and what it means to be a friend.
If you ask us, what makes a shelter dog different is actually also what makes it special. Unlike a puppy from a pet store, a shelter dog comes with a story of its own. Because it has been through some hard times, it has a deeper appreciation and a greater sensitivity of the love and life that you and your family have to offer.
Our adoption process consists of a visit to the shelter followed by a two week trial homestay. In selecting a dog to take home for a trial, some families take a longer time and multiple visits to the shelter to make a decision. For others, the decision is taken on the first visit.
Everything the dog requires during the course of the homestay would be provided by us. We would keep in close contact during these two weeks for updates on the dog and to answer any queries you might have. Rest assured though we are also mindful to give you room to get to know the dog during this crucial period.
If at the end of the trial, you deem the dog unsuitable for your family, we would take it back to resume life at the shelter. No offence whatsoever would be taken. We want our dogs to find homes - but only suitable ones that can see them out happily for the rest of their lives. The homestay is at the end of the day just a trial.
If however, the trial proves successful, we would conduct a house visit to ensure all is in order and have the adoption agreement signed. There would be an adoption fee of S$150.00 to cover the basic medical expenses spent on the dog, to be paid forward in the rescue of the next dog.
That in a nutshell is what the Gentle Paws adoption process is like.
Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any adoption queries. We would be delighted to arrange a visit for you to see the dogs at the shelter with a view to adoption.
Remember, in this world with too few homes and too many dogs, the greatest difference we can make is to adopt and not buy.
Help save a life!