'Matching service' for animals and owners

'Matching service' for animals and owners
Hugs and sloppy kisses for Voices for Animals founder Derrick Tan as he visits its shelter at 11 Pasir Ris Farmway 2. The animal welfare group is holding an adoption drive there today and tomorrow

Hundreds of hopefuls turn up at Mr Derrick Tan's shelter each month, keen to open their hearts and homes to a rescued dog or cat. But only one in five makes the cut.

Some animal lovers might not be ready for the responsibilities involved in taking in a rescued animal, said Mr Tan, 34, who founded Voices for Animals.

The animal welfare group - which takes in dogs that were once used to breed puppies for sale and later discarded - has found homes for almost 1,000 in the past five years.

Shelters also prefer to err on the side of caution and impose strict conditions on potential owners during pre-adoption screenings, rather than risk having the animal returned, Mr Tan acknowledged. "It's such a sad thing because the animals desperately need a home, and these are people who could genuinely love them," he said.

So Voices for Animals has come up with a free matchmaking scheme for novices and their potential pets, so they can get acquainted before any adoption goes through.

Potential owners will begin to understand the responsibilities of taking in a rescued animal, as they learn how to bathe their charge, for instance.

"Also, people who adopted animals from us before will meet them to provide support, as they might have questions about potty training, diets or getting a dog to walk on a leash," said Mr Tan.

The scheme, set to start at the end of the month, will be based at Sunny Heights, Mr Tan's animal day-care centre in Bukit Timah's Turf Club Road. At any one time, there will be about 10 dogs from the shelter there, which will be rotated on a fortnightly basis.

"We want to give each dog a chance to interact with potential adopters, and let the dogs show how charming they can be," said Mr Tan. Mr Jared Chan, 35, believes the new scheme will help people like himself.

The assistant product manager tried to adopt a dog from the shelter in 2013 but failed, because he was seen as lacking experience - he had not had a dog before - and was living in a rental flat then.

"The new scheme will help more people realise what they are getting into and not make impulsive decisions," he said.

Voices for Animals is holding an adoption drive today and tomorrow at its shelter at 11 Pasir Ris Farmway 2. About 200 dogs - including HDB-approved breeds such as poodles and Jack Russells - will be up for adoption.

Those who want more information can e-mail vfasin@gmail.com or look up www.facebook.com/VFASIN


This article was first published on May 1, 2015.
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