Some dogs given up as part of 'spring cleaning'

In the previous Year of the Dog, some pet stores reported a rise in sales, although this year The Straits Times found no evidence of this occurring.
In the previous Year of the Dog, some pet stores reported a rise in sales, although this year The Straits Times found no evidence of this occurring. PHOTO: ST FILE

It is the Year of the Dog but for some dogs seen wandering the streets, it will surely prove a misnomer.

At least one animal welfare group says it has spotted dogs which it suspects have been victims of "spring cleaning" by their owners.

"We have seen very skinny dogs with matted fur wandering around Singapore, and while we can't say for sure that they were abandoned, they fit the profile," said Purely Adoptions president Patrick Cher.

Voices for Animals founder Derrick Tan said: "It happens a lot that owners want to give up their pets closer to the festive season. Many people do spring cleaning and often 'spring clean' their pets out, and this mainly happens to older animals."

Mr Tan said his group has received three abandoned dogs in the lead-up to Chinese New Year.

Some shelters have noticed a pronounced "festive" spike.

Causes for Animals Singapore co-founder Christine Bernadette said: "We have received about 16 e-mails from people wanting to give up their pets in January alone. In most months, we get around three e-mails."

Mr Cher said the problem often occurs around Chinese New Year but added: "At least now there are more people approaching animal welfare groups and proactively looking to put their dogs up for adoption rather than abandoning them."

In the previous Year of the Dog - 2006 - some pet stores reported a rise in sales, although this year The Straits Times found no evidence of this occurring.

Wellfond Pets Katong store manager Josephine Yue said: "We have seen no impulse buying this year. So I think people are more educated, and know what they should do."

A spokesman for Pick A Pet, which has three pet shops around Singapore, said: "There hasn't been a spike in dog sales these past few weeks, but there appears to have been a slight increase in browsing.

"This could be because of the lead-up to the Year of the Dog."

Purely Adoption's Mr Cher said: "We'll only really know for sure how the situation is in one or two years' time because by then a puppy will no longer be as cute and people may want to give them up for adoption.

"This is what we noticed the last Year of the Dog, with quite a number of dogs being given up from 2008 to 2010."

The executive director of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Dr Jaipal Singh Gill, advised: "Do not obtain a pet just because it is auspicious to do so. Without carefully considering the responsibilities involved and without adequate preparation, the chance of growing tired of the animal and subsequently relinquishing it is much higher.

"There is no excuse for abandoning a pet. With the Year of the Dog, it's a good time to reflect on how we can do better for man's best friend. Adopting an animal, volunteering with an animal welfare organisation, making a donation or helping to spread the animal welfare message are some of the ways you can get involved."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 20, 2018, with the headline 'Some dogs given up as part of 'spring cleaning''. Print Edition | Subscribe