Speech by SMS Tan Kiat How at Project ADORE's 10th Anniversary at Pets' Day Out

Jun 18, 2022

A very good afternoon.

I am very happy to join you at Pets’ Day Out today.

This is the 14th Pets’ Day Out since it was launched in 2019, and the third physical event this year.

This is also an important platform for the community, such as pet owners, Animal Welfare Groups, veterinarians and dog trainers to gather, share and learn best practices for pet care and management. I would like to thank our Animal Welfare Group partners and vets for partnering us in the various events and activities today, such as the pet health checks and adoption drives.

Project ADORE’s 10th Year Anniversary

This year marks a major milestone for the Project ADOption and REhoming, or Project ADORE. Today, we are celebrating Project ADORE’s 10-year anniversary. Project ADORE started out in 2012, as a small pilot project led by Action for Singapore Dogs and SPCA, in partnership with MND, then-AVA and HDB. It came about from the idea that HDB dwellers could contribute significantly to reducing the stray dog population if they were allowed to adopt a local mixed-breed dog.

Initially, some HDB residents had reservations about their neighbours keeping larger dog breeds. However, our animal welfare group partners ensured that stringent adoption conditions were met under Project ADORE to minimise inconveniences to the community. Our adopters have also played their part in being responsible pet owners, such as complying with the Code of Responsible Behaviour, and completing obedience training with their dogs as part of the requirements under Project ADORE. They also recognise that pet ownership is a lifelong commitment.

Over time, we expanded Project ADORE, and in 2014, it became a permanent scheme.
We subsequently partnered with SOSD in 2014, Causes for Animals and Exclusively Mongrels in 2016, and more recently Mercylight Animal Rescue & Sanctuary in 2021 to rehome more local mixed-breed dogs into HDB flats.  

I’m glad that Project ADORE have helped many of us become “pawrents”, some of whom have joined us today: For example, Ms Felicia Leow adopted Zelos from SPCA just last year. She had first volunteered to foster Zelos, who had required dedicated attention and care for his medical condition. Over time, they had built a strong bond with each other, and Felicia decided to adopt Zelos.

Another ADORE adopter, Ms Antoinette Hendricks, also found companionship and fulfilled her lifelong dream of having a dog – by adopting Chula from Action for Singapore Dogs. Now Felicia and Antoinette have their loving Singapore Specials by their side, always ready for cuddles. Through our collective efforts, we have rehomed more than 2,000 dogs thus far under Project ADORE.

This achievement would not have been possible without the strong support from our animal welfare group partners. They not only help to assess the dog’s health and behaviour, and identify suitable adopters that can provide a loving home for the dog, but also ensure a smooth rehoming process for the adopter and their dog by providing post-adoption support. When feedback on the dogs are received, ADORE partners will work with the adopters and feedback providers to resolve them.

I thank you for your dedication.

Expansion of Criteria Under Project ADORE

And, we are constantly refining the screening and adoption criteria for Project ADORE. In 2020, we announced a two-year pilot to increase the height limit for ADORE dogs from 50cm to 55cm, and to remove the weight restriction of 15kg. This widens the pool of mixed-breed dogs, including those that come through the Trap-Neuter-Release-Manage programme, that can be matched to a good home.

The results of the pilot have been positive. Over the past two years, we have rehomed more than 260 larger, mixed-breed dogs under the pilot. This makes up about 40% of all the dogs rehomed during the two-year pilot. The expanded criteria have also contributed significantly to the overall rehoming rate of our animal welfare group partners.

They rehomed over 300 mixed-breed dogs each year in 2020 and 2021, about a 50% increase from an annual average of about 200 dogs before 2019. With the expanded criteria and more residents being receptive to the presence of mixed-breed dogs in HDB estates, we are hopeful that more dogs can find a loving home.

In tandem with the pilot on the revised size limits, we had also extended the pilot for the public to adopt retired K9 sniffer dogs. This started out as a pilot to rehome retired K9 sniffer dogs to dog handlers in 2017, and was later expanded to include members of the public living in HDB flats in 2018. To date, 54 sniffer dogs have been rehomed, of which 16 dogs have been successfully rehomed to members of the public.

Given the success of these two pilots, I am happy to announce that we are now making them permanent under Project ADORE. AVS will continue to work closely with ADORE rehoming partners to monitor the programme and minimise inconveniences to the broader community. I encourage our stakeholders – adopters, pet owners, animal welfare group partners and dog trainers, to adopt best practices for the rehoming, adoption, and training of dogs.

We had launched the guidelines for the Adoption and Rehoming of Dogs, and Dog Training and Behaviour Rehabilitation in January this year. These were developed in partnership with the Rehoming and Adoption Workgroup, taking into account the ideas and views from animal welfare groups, veterinarians, dog trainers, and international experts. You can access the guidelines on AVS’s website.

Appreciation for Project ADORE Partners and K9 Units

Lastly, I would like to say a big thank you to Project ADORE’s six rehoming partners: Action for Singapore Dogs, Causes for Animals, Exclusively Mongrels, Mercylight Animal Rescue & Sanctuary, SPCA and SOSD for joining our celebration today.

We would also like to show our appreciation to the Singapore Police Force and Singapore Civil Defence Force K-9 units, and the SAF Military Working Dog Unit (MWDU) for working together with us on the rehoming efforts.

Their dedication and efforts have been key to the success of the Project ADORE.

I look forward to everyone’s support as we bring Project ADORE to new milestones to come, and as we continue our science-based efforts to strengthen community animal management and to improve animal welfare in Singapore.

Thank you.