Photo from Facebook page of Minister of Defence, Ng Eng Hen

Dog handlers allowed to rehome retired sniffer dogs in HDB flats under 1 yr pilot expansion

In a joint statement by the Ministry of National Development, Ministry of Home Affairs and Ministry of Defence, it is announced that dog handlers from the Singapore Police Force and Singapore Civil Defence Force K-9 units, and the SAF Military Working Dog Unit (MWDU) will be allowed to rehome retired sniffer dogs in HDB flats under a one-year pilot expansion of Project ADORE from June 2017.

This pilot expansion is co-led by the Ministry of National Development (MND), the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) and the Ministry of Defence (MINDEF), with the support of the Housing and Development Board (HDB), the Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) and Animal Welfare Group partners under Project ADORE.

According to the ministries, Project ADORE was launched in 2012 to assess the acceptance of mixed-breed dogs in HDB estates, if proper safeguards are in place. Observations from the project have shown that residents have been receptive to larger dog breeds in their neighbourhoods if the dog owners behaved responsibly and there were proper channels in place for dispute mediation and the scheme has been well-received thus far.

It is said that K-9 and MWDU dog handlers have expressed interest in adopting the service dogs after they are retired from service, noting that they train and work with their dogs on a daily basis, have developed close bonds with them, and are experienced in managing these well-trained dogs.

The ministries note that the dogs have also contributed to Singapore’s safety and security while on active duty. However, K-9 and MWDU dog handlers who reside in HDB flats have been unable to adopt their dogs as the size and breeds of the retired dogs do not meet existing HDB regulations or Project ADORE’s criteria.

With this pilot expansion, dog handlers will now be able to adopt them in their HDB flats. The allowable sniffer dog breeds include Labradors, English Springers, Cocker Spaniels and Pointers. MND will review the pilot expansion after one year and assess whether to extend it to other types of service dogs.

The same conditions in place for Project ADORE will also apply to the pilot expansion. This includes the screening of potential adopters, a framework to encourage community acceptance of the dogs (e.g. mediation channels for disputes), and measures to prevent abandonment of the dogs through microchipping. All adopters will be required to comply with the ownership conditions and the Code of Responsible Behaviour as set out by MND.

Minister of Defence, Ng Eng Hean wrote on his Facebook this morning about the announcement of the pilot scheme. he wrote, ”

Many dog lovers responded to my piece on adopting SAF dogs, but were hesitant because they live in HDB flats.

I was delighted when Ministers Lawrence Wong and Desmond Lee told me that Ministry of National Development and MHA are looking at a scheme for Police K-9 dogs, where K-9 officers who reside in HDB flats can adopt their retired sniffer dogs. I volunteered SAF dogs to be part of this too. I think this pilot expansion of “Project ADORE” by MND is a good start and the right and more sustainable approach for HDB homes – it ensures responsible owners and appropriate living conditions for these dogs as well as acceptance by the neighbours and community.