A second leash of life for retired service dogs

Mr Thaksin Toh, 21, having a ball with his former co-worker, Moss, yesterday. Mr Toh served NS as the cocker spaniel's handler. Now, the seven-year-old retired sniffer dog lives with Mr Toh in his Geylang Bahru flat.
Mr Thaksin Toh, 21, having a ball with his former co-worker, Moss, yesterday. Mr Toh served NS as the cocker spaniel's handler. Now, the seven-year-old retired sniffer dog lives with Mr Toh in his Geylang Bahru flat.ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

One-year pilot expansion of Project Adore allows ex-handlers in HDB flats to adopt them

The deal was sealed the minute Moss rushed out of its kennel and pounced excitedly on Mr Thaksin Toh, a full-time national serviceman newly deployed to the police K-9 unit.

Mr Toh's heart was won, and the handler and his co-worker, a cocker spaniel, became best friends.

That was in 2015. Moss is now seven and has retired from service as a sniffer dog for narcotics in Changi Prison. Just last month, the male dog moved into its new retirement home: Mr Toh's four-room flat in Geylang Bahru, under a new scheme that lets former handlers living in Housing Board flats adopt the dogs they once worked with.

Mr Toh, 21, who completed NS in March and now helps out at his parents' food establishment, spent more than a year as Moss' handler.

"In that moment, we just clicked," he said, recounting their first meeting.

He also credits his interaction with Moss for helping him overcome a childhood fear of dogs.

Since 2012, 562 dogs have found homes under Project Adore, which allows residents in HDB flats to adopt selected medium-sized local mixed breed dogs that are up to 15kg in weight and 50cm in height. These are rescued or former service animals.

  • 562

  • Number of dogs homed in Housing Board flats under Project Adore since 2012.

Under a one-year pilot expansion of Project Adore, dog handlers from the Singapore Police Force and Singapore Civil Defence Force are now allowed to adopt retired sniffer dogs.

Dog breeds that are permitted to be rehomed under this initiative include labrador retrievers, english springer spaniels, cocker spaniels and english pointers.

At least 15 dog handlers have expressed interest in adopting retired service dogs.

The pilot expansion is co-led by the Ministry of National Development, the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Ministry of Defence.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 10, 2017, with the headline 'A second leash of life for retired service dogs'. Print Edition | Subscribe