More canines given up after 2006's Year of the Dog
Animal welfare groups ask public to consider carefully and not get dogs on impulse
Following the previous Year of the Dog in 2006, the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) saw a jump in the number of dogs given away or abandoned.
With hundreds of dogs up for adoption, animal welfare groups in Singapore have no plans on riding on the Year of the Dog fad to encourage people to adopt shelter dogs, because they have seen the devastating effects of buying animals on impulse.
SPCA executive director Jaipal Singh Gill told The New Paper they are concerned there may be impulse purchases of dogs this year.
He said that shortly after 2006's Year of the Dog, there were more dogs taken in by SPCA and also more suspected abandonment cases.
In 2006, the SPCA took in a total of 2,727 dogs, 518 of which were suspected of being abandoned.
In 2007, the total number jumped to 3,002, 738 of which were suspected abandonment cases. And in 2008, the SPCA took in 2,970 dogs, 715 of which might have been abandoned.
He said: "While we will be leveraging on Chinese New Year to raise awareness on animal welfare, we will always ask that potential adopters consider carefully if they are ready to take home a dog, whether it be the Year of the Dog or otherwise."
Action for Singapore Dogs (ASD) runs the Adoption & Rescue Centre, which is home to over a hundred stray and abandoned dogs.
ASD president Ricky Yeo, 49, said: "Getting a dog is a lifetime of commitment and responsibility.
"It is not a passing fad to be discarded when the novelty and cuteness wears off and the realities of looking after a dog set in."
He said ASD does not encourage "fad following" but encourages adoption if it is thoroughly thought through.
In 2009, ASD rescued Celeste, a mixed breed puppy known as a Singapore Special, from a pavilion in Clementi on the second day of Chinese New Year. It had been abandoned there with its food, towel and bowl.
Celeste was adopted only eight years later.
Another group is Causes for Animals Singapore (CAS), which currently cares for around 20 dogs at its adoption centre at Seletar Farmway.
CAS' fund-raising coordinator, Ms Christine Bernadette, 29, told TNP: "We do not plan to make use of the idea that it is the Year of the Dog as we believe a dog should only be gotten when a family is ready, regardless of the year."
She added that CAS wants people to understand that owning a dog was a long-term commitment, as CAS sees dogs and cats given up by their owners all the time.
Last year, CAS took in senior dogs Prince and Princess, who were given up by their owner after almost 10 years.
The owner had found it difficult to care for the dogs and passed them to CAS.
Prince still has arthritis, and Princess suffers from health issues such as seizures and heart murmur.
Ms Bernadette said: "Owners need to work through the ups and downs as well changes in lifestyles with their dog."
Mr Derrick Tan, founder of animal shelter Voices for Animals, agreed, saying: "People who are not ready to commit for the rest of the dog's life should not get a dog this year even if they feel it is auspicious."
Dr Siew Tuck Wah, the president of SOSD, which rescues and rehomes stray and abandoned dogs, told TNP there has always been a constant stream of people either giving up dogs or abandoning dogs.
Dr Siew said: "It will likely be, come this time next year when the Year of the Dog ends, that perhaps these numbers will be more apparent.
"In my opinion, this trend shows that people are not getting a dog for the right reason and have not given any thought to what it means to own a pet for life and that this society is still a long way from treating animals with respect."
Instead, it is a good time to reflect on how Singaporeans can do better for man's best friend, said Dr Gill.
He said: "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.
"Together, we can make the Year of the Dog a great one for our furry friends."