Welcoming mongrels to HDB flats

Welcoming mongrels to HDB flats
Ms Jolanda Ho adopted Bobby, a mongrel puppy, who was rescued from the streets after one of its legs was broken in a hit-and-run accident.

SINGAPORe - It was "commitment at first sight" when Ms Sharon Pillay, her husband and eight-year-old son saw a mongrel puppy at a Save Our Street Dogs (SOSD) adoption event in March.

"It just didn't seem right to go buy a dog when there are so many already looking for homes and the shelters are struggling to keep up with them," says the manager in a media company, 42, on why they wanted to adopt a mongrel.

At just under 50cm high, the puppy, which they named Floppie, is quite big - about three times the size of other dogs in the Bishan block where the family lives.

In the past, it would have been illegal under housing board rules to keep a mongrel such as Floppie in their maisonette, but recent changes in policy made it possible.

Like Floppie, thousands of stray dogs now have hope of finding a home, thanks to Project Adore.

The programme to rehome mongrels with families living in HDB flats was made permanent by the Ministry of National Development (MND) last month. Under it, mongrels up to 15kg in weight and 50cm in height - about the size of a cocker spaniel - can now be kept in HDB flats. Previously, only purebred toy breeds like shih tzus and miniature schnauzers were allowed in housing board residences.

Animal welfare groups Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) and Action for Singapore Dogs (ASD) pushed for Project Adore in 2011, which later began as a pilot programme under MND and the Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) in 2012.

The permanent adoption of the programme was announced by Minister of State for National Development Desmond Lee in Parliament on May 28.

Since the programme started, 64 strays have found permanent homes under the scheme. SOSD has joined the programme in an effort to increase its breadth.

To adopt a Project Adore dog, potential adopters must first meet with an SPCA, ASD or SOSD adoption councillor and pass a home assessment test, which will determine whether the dog, adopter and home environment are suited to one another.

Adopters are also encouraged to meet their neighbours and inform them about their plans to adopt a stray. They are coached on how to handle their dog in a communal environment. They are taught to only take their dog in the lift when it is empty and keep them on a short leash while walking in hallways, for example.

"We are very careful," says Floppie's owner, Ms Pillay. "We make sure it doesn't bark and if we are walking down the corridor, we keep it on a tight leash. There hasn't been any complaints."

One of her neighbours is Ms Cheryl Coutou, who has had no problems living next to Floppie. She regularly lets her two young children, one and three, play with the dog.

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