Hi! I’m Jamie, and this is my puppy, Mako. He’s a cutie Singapore Special and I adopted him from Purely Adoptions when he was 3 months old. Adopting him has been the best decision of my life.
But I won’t lie, the process of adopting a dog can be hard.
However, in this post, I hope to shed some light on parts of the adoption process, my experience, explain why the adoption procedure can be so tedious, and WHY it is necessary, but most importantly – WHY it is STILL WORTH IT. This is why we adopt and don’t shop.
It takes too long!
Yes, adoption can take a long time. Many of my friends have stated that when they tried to adopt, the AWGs (Animal Welfare Groups) took forever to get back to them. Yes, the responses can be slow sometimes but do consider all the other work that the AWGs are often really busy with. Many AWGs have endless to-do lists, such as taking in abandoned dogs, dogs put up for rehoming, urgent medical treatment for shelter dogs, rescuing stray dogs, trapping and neutering stray dogs to control the population, etc. etc. Many rescuers take in entire litters of puppies at a time. These puppies often have many health issues and the care required to keep the puppies alive is basically an around-the-clock commitment, and not all the puppies make it. Imagine the heartbreak of losing your dog. Now multiply that by the number of rescued puppies that don’t survive, and then by the number of litters rescuers take in. It’s a huge toll and so I hope you understand when AWGs take more time than pet shops to respond. They just have so much to do!
Moreover, keep in mind how hard 2020 has been for AWGs that can no longer hold adoption drives, fundraising events, or have volunteers over during the Circuit Breaker to help with shelter care. As much as we want to adopt WFH companions as soon as possible, do consider that there is a lot going on behind the scenes.
But they do get back to you eventually! One key thing you must have when you want to adopt is persistence. Don’t stop at enquiring at one AWG, enquire at others too. You will get a response if you keep trying.
When I started my search for my forever furkid, I began with the first AWG I knew of SPCA. However, SPCA has limited dogs available for adoption. I couldn’t find one that really spoke to me and applications were not even open because of high demand during Circuit Breaker!
So I kept digging. I only knew of a couple AWGS at that time, like SPCA and Save Our Street Dogs (SOSD). Perhaps you’re the same. But in reality, there are many, many, many AWGs out there with dogs that need a home! Here is a list of all the AWGs I looked at when looking for my furever furkid:
- Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA)
- Action for Singapore Dogs (ASD)
- Save Our Street Dogs (SOSD)
- Mercylight Animal Sanctuary
- F7 Home Kennel
- Oasis Second Chance Animal Shelter (OSCAS)
- Voices for Animals (VFA)
- Animal Lovers League (ALL)
- Causes For Animals
- Forget Me Not Dog Shelter
- Exclusively Mongrels (EM)
- Purely Adoptions (not last because of importance, last because this is where I found my furbabe! There are also several more I have not mentioned here!)
Yes, it can take a long time. But consider this: what is a few months delay when you are potentially adopting a companion who will be by your side for 10-15 years?
Why is the process so tough?
Even as determined as I was to adopt, I still found the research process was long and tedious. I messaged many shelters via their social media and received no replies for some. And even when I got through, there were just so many dogs that needed a home! How to choose? Eventually, I started submitting applications to a few AWGs, shortlisting a few dogs from each shelter that I seemed to like, hoping to meet them. (I applied for like, 8 dogs each from ASD and Mercylight!)
Here comes the discouraging part.
One shelter rejected me because all the dogs I was interested in were either already adopted, on homestay, or they did not want to let me adopt because they were skittish and I am a first-time dog owner. I couldn’t even meet the dog! I was really discouraged. But all I could do was keep trying.
Why continue? Well, just look at that long list of AWGs above! There are so many places you can try applying to. I think some people are not aware that there are so many AWGs in Singapore helping to rehome dogs, and don’t look for dogs there, especially for the smaller AWGs. If one rejects you, just try again! Some people are discouraged because of the HDB restrictions on many dogs up for adoption, and thus choose to buy HDB approved breeds instead. However, keep trying! There are many HDB-approved size Singapore Specials waiting for a home! Voices For Animals is an AWG that rehomes a lot of smaller sized dogs!
But why are AWGs so strict?
At the heart of it all, the AWGs primary concern is the welfare of the dogs. Think of it this way, it’s basically as important as adopting a child, but this child will depend on you all their life, and they have no voice to speak out if they are in a less than the optimal home environment. The AWGs just want to make sure the dogs go to a suitable home. The last thing anyone wants is for a family to abandon or return a dog they adopted because they realise they weren’t ready or suited for the dog. This is HIGHLY traumatic for the abandoned/returned dog and makes it even harder for them to be adopted in the future. That’s why they ask so many questions, so thoroughly check your home, and so carefully evaluate whether you are suitable. They have the dog’s welfare at heart.
But I don’t get to pick my dream dog…
We all love the smiley golden retrievers and adorable butt-shaking corgis. But at the end of the day, all dog owners know that they don’t love their dog for their breed, they love their dog for their dog’s pupsonality and the personal connection they feel with their dog. This is possible too, and with adoption, you really get the chance to find the right companion for you.
With adoption, the rehomers want their dogs to go to good homes, so they will help you find a dog that is a good match for you. Confession: Mako was not my first choice dog. There was a 1.5-year-old SS from another shelter I REALLY wanted to adopt, but he was massive, 30kg, and the shelter decided they did not think he was suitable for my first-timer family and I had to give up. However, the happy ending is that I feel like it was fate because I cannot imagine my life without my Mako now.
A shelter dog can be your dream dog too. Just give them that chance to connect with you.
Some people think that adopting a dog from a shelter means that you don’t know whether they are sick or have behavioural issues. THIS IS A BIG MISCONCEPTION. In fact, AWGs are likely to fully disclose if a dog has any issues and REALLY check that you are okay with these before letting you adopt. They have no vested interest in forcing you to adopt a dog you will have to give up later. They want the furkid to find their forever home too. When I wanted to adopt Mako, his rehomer at Purely Adoptions warned me extensively about the downsides of puppy raising, like the biting and the destruction, and the issues with skittish puppies. Only when I was fully agreeable and fully aware of what I was getting myself into, did she proceed to discuss with me viewing of puppies. I am so grateful she gave me that chance. Mako was a skittish, timid puppy who has blossomed into a loving, manja boy who loves cuddles and his humans, and all his doggy friends!
Why, how, can such a process still be worth it?
In my opinion? Yes. Here’s my take:
- The dog chooses you. Unlike buying a puppy, where you sometimes don’t get to interact with the puppy much before taking it home, you do know the dog’s personality, quirks, and potential issues before you have to decide whether to bring it into your family. And when a dog has chosen you and imprinted on you, the bond you feel is unspeakable.
- You save lives. This is the most important point. All the work, at the end of the day, is worth it because you are SAVING LIVES. A dog that struggles to find its next meal on the streets, that lives in fear of unfriendly humans and urban traffic, has the chance to live in the comfort of a home, loved and well-fed, knowing they will be taken care of for as long as they shall live. When you adopt, you free up space for another dog to take its place in the shelter. At minimum, you save two lives by adopting.
- You are very thoroughly supported through the adoption process, before, during, even after the papers are signed. That is in my experience, though I’ve heard similar from other adopters. Before the adoption, I could ask as many questions as I wanted. I felt bad but the fosterer and my contact point at Purely Adoptions were so kind and always ready to help me. During the trial homestay, they checked in to see how my family was doing, and check on how Mako was handling the transition. Even now, months after the adoption, whenever I have issues with Mako, such as fear, aggression, diarrhoea, I can always go to them to ask for help and advice (let me know in the comments if I should do an article on my experience with adopting a fearful puppy!). They are able to connect me to good sources of help. I got to meet Mako’s rescuer, who is also his pawma’s stray feeder, and she connected me to DawkStar, the most incredible doggy daycare that took Mako in for a week to teach him how to walk on leash despite his leash fear+aggression and socialise him. If the trial period for you does not work out, there is no judgement. The AWGs will help you find a dog suitable for your family. So the dog you adopt in the end, there is a higher chance that they are suited for you, compared to the odds when picking up a puppy you don’t know at all (unsuitable families for puppies, not unsuitable puppies, are often the cause of puppy abandonment later)
- Yes, your dog will love you so much. You are your dog’s entire world. Mako runs to greet me at the door whenever I return from work, demands to play with me, excitedly comes to me when I call him and wants to cuddle whenever I am around. Some say he is lucky to have me adopt him, but I think it goes the other way. Through the whole adoption process, I am lucky to have him. Thank you, Purely Adoptions, for bringing him into my life, which has forever been changed for the better.
So this is a bit of a long read, but I do hope it sheds some light on the adoption process, for those interested to adopt a dog. If you want a puppy, yes there are puppies out there that need a home. However, take your time to find the right one for you. It is worth it. You may spend a few months in the process of adopting, but a dog is for life. What are a few months, when the result is a wonderful companion that will be with you for the next 10-15 years?
If you are interested to hear my experience adopting Mako and how my journey has been as a first-time owner, adopting a Singapore Special puppy, let me know in the comments below so I can write about it!