Have you ever wondered what happens to 'K9' dogs in the Singapore Police Force (SPF) dog unit once they retire?
For many K9 handlers who have forged a bond with their furry partners, the right thing to do would be to bring these dogs home and provide for them. After all, being pampered for the rest of their lives is what they deserve after helping to serve the nation.
Unfortunately for these officers, till now, some of the dogs' sizes and breeds do not meet the existing HDB regulations for pet dogs and only handlers who live in private estates are allowed to adopt these dogs.
The situation was so inflexible such that several officers had resorted to moving to private estates just to be able to adopt their partners, according to the Police.
But with the new one-year pilot expansion of Project ADORE - an adoption and rehoming scheme for dogs in HDB flats announced earlier in May, handlers from K9 units can now bring them into their HDB homes.
This covers breeds such as Labradors, English Springer Spaniels, and Cocker Spaniels, while larger dogs such as German Shepherds will still not be allowed into HDB flats.
It should also be noted that this scheme is not restricted to Police K9 dogs but also to Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) and Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) units as well.
The one year pilot program will follow the same regulations and steps put in place by the original ADORE scheme, which includes screening of potential adopters of medium-sized dogs, inserting of microchips to prevent the abandonment of dogs, as well as interviewing the direct neighbours of the potential owner for their opinion.
A new home
The scheme was put into action slightly over a week ago, and former Police K9 NSF Thaksin Toh, 21, is the first fortunate dog handler to have had his dog come home with him.
His companion is a sprightly Cocker Spaniel named Moss, who used to serve as a narcotics sniffer dog in Changi Prisons.
"We trained for 6 weeks at the K9 HQ," Thaksin told AsiaOne in an interview. "That was the first time I met him. That was also when I fell in love with him."
"After that I was posted to other places (with him) and that strengthened my bond with him."
Thaksin had completed his national service in March which coincidentally happened to be around the time Moss was due to retire, and made enquiries regarding the possibility of his adopting Moss home.
He is normally very playful and to have him as a civilian domesticated it is extra hard. But it is okay, he is like family to me.Thaksin Toh, Moss' owner
Of course, this being prior to the scheme being announced, Thaksin's request was initially turned down, and he resorted to looking through their old photos together and calling his juniors back at the headquarters to check up on Moss.
It was only two months later in May when Thaksin's K9 unit para-veterinarian gave him a call with the good news, and the rest is history.
"When I realized i could bring Moss home I was really happy," Thaksin recounted with a smile. "I called my family and friends. I even called people in Thailand to tell them the news, they were all very supportive about it."
When asked about Moss' transition into his new civilian life, Thaksin admitted to its difficulty, but also displayed no sign of regret. "He is normally very playful and to have him as a civilian domesticated it is extra hard."
"But it is okay," Thaksin continued after some thought. "He is like family to me."