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Are you looking for a four-legged best friend?
Meet Rachel, Rocky, Bourbon, and Kirin -- the first batch of dogs up for adoption at Singapore's first rehabilitation centre for strays.
Rehab for stray dogs
The Centre for Animal Rehabilitation was opened by the National Parks Board's (NParks) Animal & Veterinary Service (AVS) in March 2022.
Here, AVS runs Project Rehab, a canine rehabilitation programme that aims to rehome dogs successfully.
This work supplements the Trap-Neuter-Release-Manage (TNRM) programme which aims to sterilise more than 70 per cent of the stray dog population in Singapore by 2023.
The centre houses up to 13 Singapore Specials, where rehabilitation work starts from scratch -- as stray dogs are not socialised to humans, they can behave quite differently from pet dogs
Chong Qi Ai, senior manager at the centre, said that the primary challenge that most Singapore Specials face during rehabilitation is fear, as they are usually very wary of new things and people.
As nurturing trust with a human friend takes time, the time that dogs spend in rehabilitation can range from a few months to over a year.
Getting ready for adoption
At the centre, the dogs undergo health checkups, sterilisation, and are assessed on how suitable they are as pets based on their behaviour.
For those that require rehabilitation, each dog can face a unique set of challenges.
The trainers at the facility identify these issues and develop personalised behaviour modification plans which are employed using a science-based approach.
During their rehabilitation period, the trainers also help to acclimatise the dogs to wearing a muzzle, and entering and remaining calm in crates.
Not only are the dogs are provided with tons of toys as enrichment and go on walks to reduce their stress levels, they are taught basic obedience cues such as "sit" and "down".
To prepare them for getting their blood drawn at the vet, the dogs learn to participate by placing their arm on a human's forearm:
When they are ready, AVS's partner in this programme, the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA), helps to link the dogs to adopters to rehome them.
Here are the four Singapore Specials at the centre that have recently met their assessment goals, and are looking for their furever home:
Rachel is a sweet lady who loves being around other humans and does well alone at home.
During rehabilitation, she learnt to be more confident around humans, and to be more comfortable while on a leash and muzzle.
Though Rachel likes to keep to herself around other dogs, she is adventurous and enjoys going on long walks.
As she is a more senior dog, she is looking for an understanding family who can pay closer attention to her health.
Energetic Rocky, now eight, does not act his age.
Though he is still quite wary of strangers, he is very playful and loving when he warms up to you.
He is best suited for an all-adult household with no other pets, who can help to continue his training with the muzzle, meeting strangers and vet handling.
Rocky is HDB-approved under Project ADORE.
Only six months old, Bourbon is a ball of energy.
Though a little shy near strangers, the food-motivated Bourbon appreciates neck scratches and belly rubs, and loves playing with other dogs.
As a young dog, he is suitable for an active family who can provide him with the stimulation, exercise and socialisation he needs.
Bourbon is also HDB-approved under Project ADORE.
Six-months-old Kirin is also a very playful puppy.
With the guidance of his trainers, the initially-shy Kirin has learnt how to trust humans and have fun with other puppies and adults.
Kirin is also looking for an active family, who can help with his resource guarding issues and be more confident in new environments.
He is HDB-approved under Project ADORE.
Adopting from SPCA
As part of the pilot initiative with SPCA, the dogs will remain at AVS during the adoption process instead of moving them to a new shelter environment which can be stressful for them.
Before adoption, SPCA seeks the commitment of the adopters to continue with the training methods and framework used at the centre.
For the three dogs under Project ADORE, they will first have to undergo a two-week foster programme to monitor how well the pet settles in the home before proceeding with adoption.
If you are interested to adopt the dogs, you can drop an email to [email protected] to arrange for a session to meet them.
You can also keep an eye out for future Singapore Specials, and even cats, up for adoption from AVS's Centre for Animal Rehabilitation on the SPCA's adoption Instagram page.
Top images via AVS.
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