SINGAPORE - A pilot scheme allowing larger, mixed-breed dogs as well as K9 sniffer dogs to be adopted by Housing Board flat owners has been made permanent.
This comes after a two-year trial that resulted in the rehoming of more than 260 canines above the height of 50cm and 16 K9 sniffer dogs between March 2020 and March this year.
The expanded criteria under Project Adore - an initiative led by the Animal and Veterinary Service (AVS) to reduce the number of strays on the street - has helped more dogs find new homes.
AVS' animal welfare group partners rehomed an average of about 200 dogs per year before 2019. This went up to more than 300 mixed-breed dogs annually in 2020 and 2021, said AVS on Saturday (June 18).
Under the pilot that began in March 2020, AVS increased the height limit for dogs that can be adopted under Project Adore from 50cm to 55cm, and removed the weight restriction of 15kg.
The adoption scheme for retired sniffer dogs was also extended to the public. Previously, only existing and recent K9 officers were allowed to adopt them.
Launched in 2012, Project Adore is supported by HDB and animal welfare groups such as Action for Singapore Dogs (ASD) and the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
Senior Minister of State for National Development Tan Kiat How, who attended an AVS event at Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park on Saturday, said that when Project Adore first started, some HDB residents had reservations about their neighbours keeping larger dog breeds.
"However, our animal welfare group partners ensured that stringent adoption conditions were met to minimise inconveniences to the community," he said.
Under Project Adore, animal welfare groups will screen potential adopters and assess dogs' temperaments to determine their suitability to be rehomed.
Adopters have to complete a mandatory obedience training programme of six sessions with their dogs.
Mr Wayne Gui, director of AVS, said that feedback from the public has shown that the number of complaints about such larger adopted dogs has been low.
"It shows that the training programmes undergone by the dogs are working."
He added that during the pilot, complaints were mostly about dogs barking and not being leashed, which could be easily solved with training.
Mr Gui said AVS will review such feedback with HDB to decide if the current height restriction could eventually be removed.
Ms Antoinette Hendricks, 37, a programme business manager with Bank of New York Mellon, adopted a mixed-breed, or Singapore Special, dog named Chula from ASD in May 2021 under Project Adore.
Chula is about 53cm tall and weighs more than 15kg.
Ms Hendricks, who lives alone and has never owned a pet before Chula, said the strong support system that ASD has provided her with assuaged her initial apprehension.
She was placed in a group chat with other people who used to care for Chula. She reached out for help once when she spotted a lump on Chula's belly, which turned out to be a harmless fatty cyst.
"So there's this whole network of people who would care for this dog. It doesn't mean that once the dog is mine, the relationship with everyone else who used to care for Chula stops there," added Ms Hendricks.