A few weeks ago, we debunked the Singapore Specials stereotype and observed that rescue groups or shelters, a.k.a, our *shelter heroes* have been struggling to keep up caring for, or finding places to re-home their foster pups or residents.
*“shelter heroes” used as an umbrella term in this article, refers to shelters, rescue groups, and/or organisations dedicated to getting our furry friends out of a ruff (rough) spot by rescuing, rehoming, and rehabilitating them.
Often overlooked are the efforts put in by shelters or rescue groups; the unsung heroes dedicated to putting their foot (or paw) down, taking a stand against the unapologetic treatment of Singapore Specials.
But how much do we actually know about the way in which these groups operate, the struggles they face, the sweat and tears they shed?
Besides the statutory handful, there are many other non-profit, non-registered rescue groups or organisations and shelters whose efforts are often unseen.
Ah Beng Pet Store speaks to some dog shelters, and rescue groups to give you a tail-wagging insight to how some of our shelter heroes operate.
A Sheltered View
Many people think that animal shelters or rescue groups all come under the national governing body, and all share a regulated and unified operational procedure.
In actuality, no two shelters or rescue groups are the same.
Every shelter or rescue group is its own entity, complete with its own governing body, policies and procedures, services offered, and its own set of challenges.
Finding Shelter At Home
Registered charity Exclusively Mongrels Limited is one unique example.
True to their namesake, Exclusively Mongrels has a unique cause – to provide welfare (exclusively) to mongrels, or, the euphemistically dubbed Singapore Specials.
Most of the dogs that they rescue are mongrels “bailed out from the pound”, and due to their nature, it is often a challenge to “accustom the[se] dogs to a home environment, where they will learn to coexist with other dogs and humans”, says director Kevin.
Exclusively Mongrels’ operational procedure is not commonplace; they do not have a physical shelter, instead, rely on a meticulously curated fostering system.
Boarding these rescue dogs in a home environment facilitates the dogs’ “adoptability”, explains Kevin.
“Transitioning a rescue dog from one home to another home takes lesser time compared to from a shelter to a home,” as the fostered dog “would already be “domesticated”, having interacted with humans and dogs within close proximity”:
Beaten stereotype: A friendly rescue dog from Exclusively Mongrels
(Photo credits: https://www.facebook.com/exclusivelymongrels/)
Whilst their registered status “lend[s] credibility” to their organisation, potentially raking in more donations, Exclusively Mongrels’ struggle to provide excellent welfare for their foster pups are often overlooked.
A seemingly simple task of paying for these pups’ medical bills could reach a whopping “$10,000 a month”, reveals Kevin. This can be a gruelling feat for even the most credible of organisations.
Besides, due to the nature of their organisation, finding experienced foster carers with the “knowledge and ability to handle fresh rescues” is tricky, and Exclusively Mongrels bends over backwards daily to preserve their cause.
To help Exclusively Mongrels with their cause, you may contact them via Facebook to register as a foster, volunteer, help them with vet bills, or simply support them at organised charity car washes, or adoption drives:
Exclusively Mongrels’ charity car wash
An adoption drive by Exclusively Mongrels
(Photo credits: https://www.facebook.com/exclusivelymongrels/)
Naturally, non-registered shelters or rescue groups like Uncle Khoe’s K9 Shelter struggle consequentially with defraying the costs of keeping the shelter up and running.
Uncle Khoe’s spokesperson Irene explains, “as a non-registered shelter, we are not allowed to publicly appeal for funds or donations. This is very hard for small shelters like ours because we won’t be able to reach out to the public freely.”
Besides, there is always the skepticism that comes with being non-registered: “The public can be quite skeptical when it comes to non-registered shelters as it is mostly based on trust as to how the shelter uses the donated funds,” shares Irene.
Uncle Khoe’s relies on the goodwill of volunteers and donors for monetary donations or donations in kind, and only makes “food or medical appeals,” when the costs of caring for the pups get too “hefty”, as well as on the sales of merchandise to cover the costs of their shelter’s rental fees:
When asked about the community support received, Irene was quick to extend her gratitude to the volunteers that make Uncle Khoe’s cause possible:
“Without the volunteers, the dogs wont have weekly walks and would be wasting their life behind grills. Without the volunteers, the dogs wont feel the love and blossom because of that love. We want the dogs to be happily waiting for their forever home in our humble shelter. And this won’t be able to happen , if not for the help from every one of the volunteers”.
Despite their struggles, Uncle Khoe’s does what they can to maximise the welfare of their residents: “It is hard being such a small and non-registered shelter, [and] we prefer to keep the numbers low so that each and every dog gets quality time, care and love from us”.
“We can’t rescue every dog, but we wish to make a difference for the dogs that we rescue”, Irene concurs, staying true to their founder’s mantra: “Till I can no longer walk, I will feed as many as I can, help as many as I can, one at a time”.
No matter how small the difference, it is what these pups need.
Make your very own contribution and grab your very own Uncle Khoe K9 Calendar to help Uncle Khoe’s cause. 100% of the proceeds go directly to them:
(Photo credits: https://www.facebook.com/johnny.khoe.5)
A Newfound Respect For Our Shelter Heroes
Often, outsiders like myself —who are ill-informed of the challenges each rescue group or shelter might be facing— tend to overlook the gruelling process of running a shelter like Uncle Khoe’s or a rescue group like Exclusively Mongrels. We might even be quick to judge the way other shelters or rescue groups operate, unbeknownst to ourselves – with an ironic naïvety.
Speaking with Irene and Kevin about the nature of their organisations shone light on the sheer conviction and willpower these groups of individuals have; the guardians of Singapore’s much forgotten and outcast-ed furry residents.
Perhaps it’s time to put down our sheltered outlook on the workings of our shelter heroes, and give them their due credit.