Adopting a Dog in Singapore: 4 Guidelines to Follow

Last updated on June 20, 2022

dog at an animal shelter

Having finally decided to adopt the dog that has long caught your eye, you may be wondering what the adoption process is like and what is expected of you after the adoption. After all, pets are for life and you will have to be prepared to care for your new family member for the long term.

Look no further, for this article will cover the Guidelines for Dog Rehoming and Adoption Practices issued by the Animal Veterinary Service (AVS), which you will have to follow when adopting a dog from Animal Welfare Groups (AWG) in Singapore. It will cover:

AWGs are organisations dedicated to ensuring animal welfare. Part of their work includes rescuing, fostering and rehoming animals. The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA), Action for Singapore Dogs (ASD), and Animal Lovers League (ALL) are just some of the many AWGs in Singapore.

What Guidelines Should You Follow When Adopting a Dog in Singapore?

1. Prepare yourself mentally

Owning a dog is a huge responsibility. You will be looking after your dog for the rest of its life. Not only will you have to take care of its basic needs such as by providing water, food and shelter, but you will also have to commit to bringing the dog to regular veterinary health checks and outdoors for exercise. You should anticipate a change in your lifestyle.

You will also have to check with the AWG on whether the dog has any existing medical and behavioural conditions. If there are any, you will have to be prepared to pay for extra veterinary fees, and spend time and effort teaching your dog how to behave.

2. Check with the AWG on the pre-adoption process 

As part of the pre-adoption process, you will have to complete application forms and undergo screening. The AWG may conduct a home inspection to assess the dog’s future living conditions.

Depending on the AWG, the dog may be brought to your house. You and your family members’ interactions, as well as interactions of any other pets you might have, with the dog, may be observed during that time. Alternatively, you and your family members may be required to come down to the AWG to interact with the dog.

These measures are necessary to ensure that you and the dog will be suitable for each other, and that you will be able to adequately provide for the dog’s needs based on your lifestyle.

Your application for the adoption of the dog may be refused for a variety of reasons, such as if:

  • The future housing may be detrimental to the dog, e.g. there may be insufficient space or too many choking hazards lying around
  • Your interactions with the dog raise concerns about your ability to take care of it, e.g. you handle the dog roughly
  • You are unlikely to be able to meet the dog’s needs

3. Look through the adoption agreement carefully

Once you have been given the green light to adopt the dog, you will be asked to sign a written adoption agreement. It is important that you look through the agreement carefully so that you know what you are signing yourself up for and that you are able to fulfil all obligations stipulated in the agreement.

The agreement should clearly define who has ownership of and decision-making authority over the dog after the adoption. Sometimes, you may have to notify or request the participation of the AWG in decision-making for the dog on matters such as treatment and euthanasia (where applicable).

Additionally, you should look out for key clauses stating your obligations as an owner and information regarding:

  • Sterilisation, vaccination, socialisation and dietary needs;
  • Ongoing treatment for medical conditions and veterinary appointments; and
  • Ongoing behavioural training and treatment of behavioural conditions.

You should also take note of the following information should problems arise post-adoption:

  • Contingency measures and post-adoption support; and
  • Policies regarding the rehoming of the dog should you no longer be able to care for it, as well as the treatment of any medical conditions.

Signing the adoption agreement will finalise the adoption. You will then be legally bound to abide by all the terms in the adoption agreement.

4. Resolve any issues post-adoption as soon as possible

After the adoption, it is inevitable that there will be an adjustment period for you and the dog as the dog settles into your home. Post-adoption support is available to provide you with the resources and information to ease the dog’s transition into the new home, improve animal welfare, and reduce the chances of you having to resort to returning the dog.

If you have any queries or require any assistance, you are encouraged to contact the shelter/person-in-charge as soon as possible via the agreed mode of communication stipulated in the adoption agreement. This is so that early intervention can be made to ensure the dog’s well-being.

The adoption agreement should also have provided a list of recommended veterinarians and trainers from whom you may seek advice should your dog have any health or behavioural issues. Not only will you save time and effort by not having to source for them yourself, but you can also rest assured that those veterinarians and trainers are fully competent.

You may also be required to periodically provide post-adoption feedback through surveys so that the AWG from which you’ve adopted your dog can follow up on any behaviour or health issues.

Is Abiding by These Guidelines Necessary?

While the guidelines are not legally binding, you are encouraged to follow them closely. This is to ensure that the adoption process is smooth, you are well prepared to look after your dog and that your dog is well taken care of.

Do note, however, that you are legally bound to comply with the terms in the adoption agreement as mentioned previously. If you do not comply with the terms, you may be sued for breach of contract and may have to pay damages.

What are Some Laws I Should Abide by While Taking Care of My Dog?

There are also other laws relating to responsible dog ownership that you will have to abide by when your dog is under your care.

License your dog

First, you will have to obtain a licence for your dog by applying through the AVS’ Pet Animal Licensing System (PALS). This is to facilitate tracing in the event of a disease outbreak, such as rabies.

Clean up after your dog

To play your part as a responsible pet owner, you will also have to clean up after your dog if it relieves itself while on a walk. You are advised to bring plastic bags, newspapers and a water bottle with you when you are walking your dog. If you fail to clean up after your dog, you may be fined up to $1,000 for a first offence.

Keep your dog leashed during walks

For the safety of your dog and the general public, you must keep your dog leashed during walks. It is illegal to walk your dog without putting it on a leash, and you may be fined up to $5,000 for doing so.

You may check out our other article for more information on responsible dog ownership in Singapore.

Treat your dog well

Additionally, it is your duty to ensure that your dog is well taken care of, or you may be guilty of animal abuse.

Animal abuse may be in the form of animal cruelty, or the neglect of animals. Both are recognised criminal offences in Singapore and penalties will be imposed should you be found guilty of these offences.

You will be guilty of animal cruelty if you cause or allow unnecessary physical or psychological pain to your dog. On the other hand, you will be found guilty of neglecting your dog if you:

  • Fail to provide your dog with adequate and suitable food and water;
  • Fail to provide your dog with adequate shelter;
  • Subject your dog to unreasonable or unnecessary pain in how it is handled or confined; and/or
  • Fail to take reasonable steps to protect your dog from any significant injury or disease, such as by not seeking veterinary treatment despite noticing your dog’s discomfort or injury

You may read our article for more information on animal abuse offences and their penalties in Singapore.

Getting a new dog is always exciting. If you have any questions about adopting a dog in Singapore, you may contact the AVS or the AWG from which you are adopting the dog. You may also check out our article on pet adoption in Singapore in general.

You are highly encouraged to follow the above guidelines to ensure a smooth adoption process that prioritises your dog’s welfare. Even after the adoption, feel free to contact the AWG and it will render timely assistance the best that it can. As pets are for life, it is your responsibility to provide the utmost care for your dog for the long run. All the best with your new furry friend, and remember to abide by responsible pet ownership laws!

Separately, if you have been charged with a pet-related offence in Singapore, it is recommended that you consult a criminal lawyer. A criminal lawyer will be able to assess your case and advise you on your most suitable courses of action moving forward.