In May 2011, the Singapore newspapers ran a story of how a 13-year-old adopted dogs which he later sold for pocket money. It only came to light when a woman called for an update the day after she gave him her Maltese. After the boy told her the dog had run away, the woman filed a police report and her facebook postings made the story go viral.
Investigations show that he had placed some twenty dogs-for-sale ads in the newspapers. Animal activists tried to rescue the dogs, including a pregnant Maltese. They were only able to save a little Yorkie who was caged outside his HDB flat, but it cost them $300.
My question is why would anyone hand over their dog to a child? Even if the boy used sob stories to gain sympathy (which he allegedly did), it is unthinkable that an adoption could take place, without the consent of parents or other adults the child lives with.
Adoptions from rescue groups and shelters have a process, starting with a questionnaire to gauge a potential adopter’s ability to keep a dog and to see which dogs are best suited. There is an adoption fee to cover costs incurred such as health checks, vaccinations, and desexing. Pretty much all rehoming centres are non-profit and rely on donations. The adoption fees only help with vet costs. Another reason for adoption fees is to make sure people understand that this is a commitment. If a potential adopter cannot pay the adoption fee, how can he manage dog food, licensing or vet care?
Aside from paying a fee, an adopter has to sign an agreement. Above all, any adopter must be of legal age. There is no fool-proof adoption process but rescues and rehoming centres try their best to find a forever and committed home for the dogs. Each time a dog is surrendered and returned, or simply passed around from home to home, he suffers undue stress and is more likely to develop undesirable behaviour.
This story brought to light a scam that may have gone undetected for a long time. Perhaps others are doing the same thing under the radar. The 13-year-old first lied, then denied any wrongdoing, and then claimed that once the dogs were his, he was free to do as he pleased, including selling them for profit. Believing that dogs are mere property is unsettling.
Education and awareness programs by organizations like the SPCA and Action for Dogs Singapore are aimed at the next generations. How representative is this 13-year-old? How successful are these educational initiatives?