dog beside an adopt me sign

SINGAPORE: The age-old dilemma of whether to adopt or buy a dog continues to spark debates worldwide, with pet lovers and animal welfare groups advocating for adoption as the ethical choice. Singapore is not exempt from this discussion, as individuals grapple with the decision-making process.

Yahoo Southeast Asia engaged with dog keepers to understand why Singaporeans buy instead of adopt dogs, shedding light on the complexities of responsible and ethical practices when keeping dogs.

Personal preferences and family considerations

Wanting a specific breed or the desire for a puppy often steers individuals towards purchasing rather than adopting. Nicole Lau, a 30-year-old dog keeper, expressed the joy and challenge of puppy training as a motivating factor. Similarly, Felicia Seet, 43, opted to buy a Shiba Inu puppy as her preference, as many shelters predominantly house adult dogs.

Sally Yeo, the communications lead at Puppy Club, emphasised the appeal of predictability that buying from reputable breeders offers. She noted that buying a pet from reputable and ethical breeders offers a level of predictability over the buyer’s preference on breed, size, temperament, and health history, highlighting that this benefits buyers with a specific lifestyle, especially those considering allergies or young children.

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Adoption criteria

Despite the push for adoption, potential adopters often face stringent criteria and protocols, discouraging some from pursuing this path. Michelle and John, a couple in their 30s, encountered challenges when attempting to adopt due to what they perceived as an unwelcoming attitude from shelters. The extensive interview process and specific requirements, including spending eight hours a day at home and cooking for the dogs, proved daunting for working adults like them.

Michelle expressed their frustration by stating, “Having to make ourselves available for all these requests made us feel like we are beholden to the organisation rather than the dogs. We can completely understand why the shelters have certain regulations in place, but what we are asking is for them to hear our point of view. If they put in so many regulations, and people are not able to abide by those regulations, they have to understand that these people might buy dogs instead.”

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Shaming failed adopters

A culture of online shaming surrounding failed adoptions can be another deterrent for potential adopters. John recounted an incident where an adopter was publicly criticised on social media for returning a dog, creating a high barrier of entry for those considering adoption.

Michelle stated, “Let’s not shame people who try (adopting) and realise that they can’t and return the dogs. At least they tried; that’s the most important thing.”

Matching dogs to potential adopters

Li Bing, co-founder of Chained Dog Awareness, explained the challenges volunteers face with limited resources. She ensured the importance of matching the right adopter profile with a dog, considering the traumatised past or unknown background of many rescued dogs.

Wendy Low, vice president of Action for Singapore Dogs (ASD), noted that only shortlisted and suitable potential adopters would be contacted due to time constraints. The screening process involves evaluating potential adopters’ ability to meet the needs of the dog, including factors like energy levels, training requirements, and the ability to be alone.

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To buy or adopt?

The decision to adopt or buy a dog remains deeply personal, influenced by various factors such as lifestyle, breed preferences, and family needs. Puppy Club’s Ms Yeo advised, “Buying might suit first-time dog owners or those seeking specific breed traits and a puppy they can raise from the start. Adoption is ideal if you’re confident and flexible on the breed and willing to provide a loving home to a pet with an unknown past.” /TISG