Tuesday, November 6, 2012

The True Price Of Helping A Dog

After getting involved in dog welfare volunteer work for almost a year, I know more now than I did years ago. This blog entry is to share with you the true price of helping a dog, so you can make informed decisions on how you can help as an individual. When I decided to start D.O.G.S with my like-minded friends, my objective is for it to be a positive organisation that can support other dog welfare groups, as well as raise awareness through public education and understanding.

You can make a difference as an individual. Yes, you can! Here's how...

1. Volunteer at a dog shelter  
Apart from SPCA, there are also many dog shelters in Pasir Ris Farmway Drive and Lim Chu Kang. Even if you can only volunteer your time once in a while, the dogs are happy to be walked and given some TLC. Every shelter needs volunteers, so write to one and find out how you can help.

I volunteer at Madam Wong's Shelter when I have spare time. I walk and bathe some of the difficult dogs. I also rehabilitate some dogs with fear and aggression issues.

2. Foster a dog
This is good for those who want to help a dog on a short-term basis. Usually, puppies and recuperating dogs would need a home environment. If you love dogs, you can consider opening up your home for a needy dog.

Peanut and Butter are puppies that have been recently rescued by Uncle Khoe's Shelter. They are looking for foster homes before the adoption drives. Shelters are no place for young growing puppies. Please send D.O.G.S a message if you are able to foster them.

3. Adopt a dog
If you are looking to have a pet dog, consider adopting instead of buying one. Many shelters offer dogs of different size and age. So do look around and you may find your ideal dog mate. You don't just save money, you save two lives. How so? You save the life of the dog you adopt, and you free up the kennel space for another dog to be rescued. Good deal!

Many shelters have Facebook pages where you can also browse the dogs that are up for adoption. SPCA has an adoption gallery and its website provides useful information about adoption, as well as a list of dogs that are HDB-approved.

4. Do not support puppy farms and unethical breeders
If you absolutely have to buy a puppy, please do your research and buy from a reputable and ethical breeder. There are many puppy farms out there and way too many unethical breeders. I wrote about the ugly truth of puppy mills last year.

Visit http://sgpuppies.com to learn how you can spot a puppy mill or unethical breeder. Let's put an end to this cruelty. Even if you are not buying a dog, you can share the information and create awareness about this cruel trade of dog breeding.

5. What if you found a dog?
Say you found a dog while you were out, what should you do? Call AVA or SPCA? Are you sending the dog to its death sentence? This is what you can do.

Step 1 - Check if the dog has a dog tag with a contact number. If there's a contact number, the lost dog can be easily reunited with its owner.

Step 2 - If the dog has no tag, you can contact SPCA to check if anyone reported a lost dog of similar physical attributes. It is also important to note down the date, time and location that you found the dog. You can also bring it to the nearest vet to check if the dog has a microchip. If the dog has a microchip and is licensed with AVA, you will be able to help locate its owner.

Step 3 - If the dog has no tag and no microchip, you can try to foster the dog in the meantime, while trying to locate its owner by sharing the info and photos on Facebook, putting up posters in the area where you found the dog, and asking SPCA to post the info on their website.

It is a big misconception that you are sending a dog to its death by calling SPCA. What SPCA does is to find a fosterer for the dog while trying to locate the owner. SPCA will actually ask the person who found the dog to foster if possible. Many people don't know that SPCA will put out classified ads for lost dogs. They also try to foster and rehome the dogs to the best they can. Unfortunately, some dogs may have to be euthanised in the process if they are unsuitable to be rehomed due to temperament, age or health conditions.

6. What if you found a stray dog?
If you find a healthy stray dog, leave it be as long as it is not aggressive and poses no threat. If you have found an abused stray dog, please do call the SPCA and report the animal abuse. If you found an injured stray dog, you can try contacting dog welfare organisations such as HOPE Dog Rescue to see if they can assist. Otherwise, you can choose to bring the dog to the vet and pay for its medical bill, foster it till it gets better. After which you can try to rehome it or set it free where you found it.

This is the true price of dog rescue and welfare work. Instead of being a keyboard warrior by criticizing and pointing fingers at AVA or SPCA for having to put some dogs to sleep, you can choose to help solve the overall big problem in your own little ways. Making informed decisions and doing what you can, this is how we can make Singapore a better place for our canine friends.

Last but not least, if you are a dog owner, please be a responsible dog owner and don't abandon your dog. *woof*

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