Call to allow bigger dogs in flats

Two animal welfare groups are petitioning the authorities to ease size restrictions for adoptions under a programme to house mixed-breed dogs in Housing Board flats.

Action for Singapore Dogs (ASD) and Save Our Street Dogs (SOSD) have asked the Ministry of National Development (MND) to revise the criteria for Project Adore.

Under the current scheme, only mongrels up to 50cm in height and 15kg in weight are allowed to be kept in HDB flats. The groups want the limit raised to 60cm and 20kg, to allow more dogs to qualify for adoption by HDB flat owners.

ASD president Ricky Yeo said: "The current parameters limit the number of dogs that may have the right temperament, but are unable to be adopted because they are a little bigger."

Ms Kieran Kua, a full-time shelter officer at SOSD, said the current limit means only about 20 per cent of their estimated 140 dogs can be adopted through Project Adore.

Raising the limit expands the number to about 60 per cent of the dogs they have, she said.

When contacted, a spokesman for MND said it is reviewing the request. She added: "Any policy adjustments have to be done sensitively."

The MND also hopes to expand the scheme by roping in more animal welfare groups, on a case-by-case basis, the spokesman said.

Project Adore was first mooted by the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) and ASD in 2011. The MND started a pilot scheme in 2012, which was made permanent on May 28 last year.

SOSD joined in May last year.

Minister of State for National Development Desmond Lee had said in Parliament: "Rehoming stray dogs is not a straightforward issue… Project Adore has been a great success because SPCA and ASD understand the broader sensitivities and different dynamics at play, and have run the pilot well."

According to the latest MND figures, 169 dogs have been adopted under Project Adore since it started, fewer than the 120 a year that ASD projected. The groups attributed the lower- than-expected numbers to several factors, such as the size restriction.

Some HDB residents are also more wary of bigger dogs. Said Ms Alison Ong, 21, an undergraduate who lives in Jurong: "A reason why the rules are in place against bigger dogs is that there are little kids around, and they may be scared by these dogs."

Since Project Adore began, however, there have been no complaints, and no dogs were forced to be returned.

One successful case is that of Emm, a three-year-old local cross-breed adopted a year ago by Mr Jack Lim, a teacher in his 40s.

He said: "It is not the size of the dog, but the temperament as well as the owner. I have met big dogs rescued at SOSD but their temperaments were great. Size is only a first impression. If the dog behaves well, then it is a non-issue."

This article was first published on June 2, 2015.
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