Singapore Opens First Animal Rehabilitation Center to Help Stray Animals Adapt to Home Life and Find Adopters
Dr Chang said: “Stray dogs come from different environments, so some may not be socialized to human interactions or the urban environment. They may carry a bit of fear, anxiety and stress. .”
Some key features of the center include a visitor center that mimics a living room and dining room, equipped with everyday appliances.
“We wanted a space that mimics the home environment…(so that) the dogs are comfortable with the sounds of the television or the vacuum cleaner, which are new to them.”
The kennels are also set up in such a way that the dogs are not confronted with other kennels, which reduces their stress level.
Dr Audrey Chen, Director of the Animal Rehabilitation Center, said: “The kennels are also compartmentalized into two sections, a sleeping area and an active area. Given the choice of where they want to be, we have found that it helps reduce their stress levels.”
The center also includes two dog parks and a clinic.
EVALUATIONS EVERY THREE MONTHS
Upon their arrival, the dogs are assessed by AVS veterinarians and are microchipped, vaccinated, castrated and treated if necessary.
They then undergo behavioral observation to determine if rehabilitation is necessary. If so, AVS spends two weeks identifying the issues while considering other factors such as the dog’s health and behavioral history.
“We tailor behavior modification plans for each dog…which is more effective and gives them a chance to be rehomed,” Dr. Chang said.
Every three months dogs are assessed until they are deemed ready. Then, animal welfare groups such as the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) will help find potential adopters.
“Through this program and facility, we hope to see animals from the community…be housed, adapt well, and that adopters receive the appropriate care support (for the animal) and continue their rehabilitation. if needed,” Dr. Chang said.
At the opening ceremony of the centre, Mr Tan Kiat How, Minister of State for National Development, said having fewer stray dogs on the streets alleviates community concerns over welfare dogs, as well as the potential risks to public health and safety.
“By continually building our community capacity for animal management and care, we can ensure better health and welfare for these animals.”
Since the Trap-Neuter-Release-Manage program launched in 2018, public comments about stray dogs have dropped by more than 60%, he said.
The program, developed in conjunction with animal welfare groups, was launched as a national initiative to provide a humane, scientific and sustainable method of managing the stray dog population here through neutering, among other methods.
AVS hopes to sterilize 70% of stray dogs by 2023, with most finding homes after that.
Mr. Tan also urged people to adopt instead of buy pets and attend AVS awareness events to learn more about the behavioral needs and best practices of pets.
AVS has also launched a pilot program in collaboration with the SPCA to exchange knowledge and improve the transition process between rehabilitation and finding a home for animals.
Ms. Aarthi Sankar, Executive Director of the SPCA, said the facility will facilitate the adoption of animals as they are already used to a home environment, which addresses some concerns of adopters.
“Through this collaboration, SPCA staff can also work hand-in-hand with AVS staff to rehome some of these animals and share key information on best practices and rehabilitation,” she said. .