SINGAPORE: In a concerning trend, the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) has reported a significant spike in pet abandonments in Singapore during the past year, with the numbers at least doubling compared to previous years.

This alarming rise in abandoned animals has been accompanied by a simultaneous drop in adoption rates, reaching their lowest point in the past five years, with only around 600 animals finding new homes in 2023.

The SPCA has noted that the surge in abandoned pets primarily includes cats, hamsters, guinea pigs, and other small animals. Notably, rabbits, purchased as symbols of good luck at the beginning of the Chinese Year of the Rabbit, have become one of the most abandoned species.

An organization rehoming abandoned rabbits over the past 20 years told Channel 8 that it has seen a distressing increase in abandonments, with approximately 100 cases reported last year alone.

Volunteers and organizations involved in pet adoption have expressed their struggles coping with this surge. A volunteer told the Chinese daily, “We have no way to collect more rabbits because the rabbits from the year before last have not gone out yet.”

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Several adoption agencies have also highlighted a year-by-year decline in adoption rates, with one organization reporting a mere 93 adoption requests in 2023, a third of the number during the peak of the 2020 pandemic.

Project LUNI, a non-profit organization focusing on rehoming street cats, reported a 40% drop in adoption rates compared to the pandemic’s peak, with only 240 cats finding new homes in 2023.

Dog adoption agencies cited a shift in societal dynamics as a contributing factor to the declining adoption rates. With people returning to work and facing economic challenges, many individuals find themselves lacking the time and financial resources needed to care for dogs.

The operations director of an agency specializing in stray dog adoptions told Channel 8, “After some people adopt a dog, after a few years or a few months, they feel that the personality is not compatible, or the contact between children and puppies is not good. So they ended up returning the dog to us.”

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Amidst the decline in adoption rates, some adoption agencies have also implemented stricter screening processes for potential adopters. One dog adoption agency reported that out of 700 adoption requests received, only about 10% resulted in successful adoptions due to more stringent screening.