By Vivienne Scott
There is substantial research documenting the positive health and wellbeing outcomes of owning a pet: companionship, stress-relief, fulfillment, therapeutic benefit, fitness, routine, social opportunities and even a strengthened immune system. The American Pet Products Association recorded 68% of US households were in ownership of a pet between 2017 and 2018, so it is unsurprising that many expatriate families consider bringing a four-legged friend or fur-baby into their homes in Singapore. If you are considering keeping a pet while living on the island, it is important to think carefully about the animal and breed, where to source them and the associated long-term responsibility and cost, particularly if you are intending to repatriate.
The reality in Singapore is that many pets are sourced from pet shops and puppy mills. These businesses often breed and keep animals in inhumane conditions and value profit above appropriate care and welfare for their animals. Puppy mills are renowned for repeatedly breeding the same animals for profitable offspring, while the parent animals are kept in small cages with no hope of ever having a home. When they can no longer breed, they are often discarded or put down.
Causes for Animals (Singapore) Limited (CAS) is an animal welfare charity set up to support the needs of local animal welfare. As a fosterer for CAS, I have seen the sad reality of puppy mills. Tigger came to me with a number of health issues, some treatable, some not: Tigger had mobility difficulties resulting from wrongly developed posture and bone structure due to prolonged caging, poor eyesight due to cataracts, almost fully impaired hearing, and a long-term itchy and painful skin condition.
Happily, Tigger was lovingly adopted into a permanent home within a month, as was the case for each of the six lovely dogs I have temporarily fostered over the past 18 months. Their stories range from being unwanted pets, abandoned by relocating owners, street dogs, or having neglected healthcare needs. I formed great attachments with, and gained a great deal of reward from welcoming each unique personality into my home.
Singapore, like many countries in Southeast Asia, has a significant stray dog and cat population but this is both dangerous and unwanted in such a densely populated and developed island. The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) rescued over 1,750 animals last year alone, but this number does not include those animals taken into care by charity shelters such as CAS. With a recorded 680 adoptions and notable expense of animal healthcare, this is not a sustainable situation and the number of animals in need is ever-increasing. Those who cannot be safely released or rehomed are often euthanized.
Adopting a rescue animal enables that space to be given to another animal in need of treatment and care. Adoption is also a significantly more affordable option than shopping and you can feel proud that you have helped an animal in need. CAS has a 98% adoption success rate and frequently hosts campaigns to raise funds to offer ethical and compassionate treatment of rescue animals, while applying their own successful stray management program by neutering and releasing healthy animals to prevent further growth of stray populations.
For more information or to support the inspiring work of CAS, or if you are considering adopting a rescue animal, please visit www.causesforanimals.com
Baker suffered permanent damage to her hind leg after a hit and run incident. Despite never having lived in a home before, a CAS fosterer took Baker into her home to familiarize her with a household environment. Baker won the hearts of an adoptive couple who were looking for a laidback addition to their family.
Little Pocco was discovered in a ditch with a dreadful maggot-infested wound. CAS published an emergency appeal to fund the medical aid needed to save his life. It is hoped he will make a full recovery and will stay with foster carers until he finds a permanent home.