Save Our Stray Dogs

What to do if you find them

If you are an animal lover and you spot a dog roaming around without food and shelter, you may find it difficult to just walk away. Dogs on the streets could either be strays, lost, or abandoned.

Make sure that it is really alone before you attempt a daring rescue. The dog could simply have been separated from its owner temporarily, or it might be part of a pack – in which case his “buddies”, if any, might come after you.

The first step is to get it in your possession. This can be dangerous, especially if the dog is defensive or hostile due to prior abuse or neglect from its owners, or it could simply be because of its innate temperament. If it appears to pose any threat of biting or attacking, do not approach it. Instead, call the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority’s (AVA) Centre for Animal Welfare and Control for help and inform them of its location.

If the dog is friendly enough, win its trust by making a peace offering, such as presenting food. Once the dog is comfortable with you, you can attempt to place a leash or rope around its neck. If it is a puppy, you can place it in a large box or crate. Check for any signs of domestication, such as a collar which may contain information that may lead you to the dog’s home or owner.

For a dog with a collar but no license, see if it can understand basic commands such as “sit”, “stay” and “down”, as the animal could be either lost or abandoned. You can bring the dog to the vet to scan for a microchip. If the dog has one, you can use the information to obtain the dog owner’s contact from the AVA.

If it has no collar or license, does not show signs of domestication and looks like it needs help, you can contact non-profit/volunteer/support groups such as Save Our Street Dogs (SOSD), Action for Singapore Dogs (ASD) or the Society of Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA).

How to adopt them
Before you decide to adopt a stray dog and give it a place in your household, there are a few things you need consider.

First and foremost, before you bring the dog back into your home and expose it to your family and other animals, a visit to the veterinarian is a must for preventative shot, flea/tick treatments, vaccinations and sterilization if necessary.

Next, ensure that you have the finances to take care of it. Just because the dog is a stray does not mean that it does not require any expenses; you will need to pay for food, snacks, toys, medical treatments, grooming, necessities such as collars and leashes, and a kennel, cage or crate. It is also a good idea to get your new pet micro chipped in case you lose it or it runs away.

It is also important to speak to those living with you, including your parents, spouse, children, housemates/flat mates, and even domestic helpers, to see if they are agreeable to adopting the animal. Then, think about how well you are able to meet your dog’s daily needs and whether you are emotionally ready to handle this long term commitment, which can be more than 15 years.

Once you have made the decision to take in the dog, owners have to apply online for licensing, renewable annually, at the Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority (AVA) website. Keep the AVA is informed if there is a change of ownership of the dog or the address where the do is kept, or if the dog gets lost or passes away.

Do note that if you live in a HDB flat, you are only allowed to keep one dog of an approved breed. If you flout the rules, you may be liable to a fine of up to a maximum of $4,000. If you live in a non-HDB residence, you can keep up to three dogs.

Caring for them
Adopting a stray dog is a completely different ball game compared to buying one from a pet shop. The dog would have been used to living in harsh and dirty conditions and probably has no ideas, for example, that relieving itself on the floor at your feet is not a good thing, or, that the trash can is not exactly the best source of food.

Since stray dogs are probably not very used to human contact, get a special fence or crate for it, and make sure that you and your family members do not overwhelm the canine. For at least the first few days, confine the dog for most of the day, and place food, water a chew toy inside the crate. Bring it to roam one room at a time to get used to the new environment.

Strays also need to be slowly introduced to the dry dog food sold at pet stores or else they may get digestive problems. Consult your veterinarian on the best way to do this. Feed it with food and water in controlled portions on a regular schedule, so that you will be better able to gauge when it will relieve itself.

When you do catch your dog exhibiting conduct that is unacceptable in your household, firmly and harshly say “No!” or any word of your choice. Every time this happens, consistently use the same word so that the dog will identify with the word and know it has done wrong. Never punish the dog by hitting or starving it.

When your dog does get it right, edible treats, verbal praises and petting are all good ways to provide positive reinforcements during the housebreaking process, but it’s important to reward your dog immediately after good behavior is displayed.

Taking in a stray can be challenging, but the satisfaction of seeing your pet’s health and happiness improve will be your reward.

Source: The Sunday Times, August 25, 2013
Pets Corner
Written by Amanda Ng

Health-Conscious Owners Are Putting Their Pets On Raw Food Diets And Organic Foods

Daisy, a 10-year-old papillon, dines on organic vegetables and fresh meats twice a day.
They are prepared by her owner, Mr Timothy Loh, 49, a public relations consultant, who started her on a fresh food, mostly organic diet when he adopted her last year.

"The kind of food that we feed our dogs is a hot topic, especially when it is elderly. Your primary concern is cancer. You ask do you want to feed it food with hormones and additives?" he says.

These days, health-conscious pet owners are tailoring nutritious or organic diets for their animals.

Mr Loh spends about $200 a month on fresh meat, organic vegetables, vitamin supplements and antioxidants for Daisy.

He is conscious about his own health and diet too, and feeding the dog tasty, healthy meals is a priority. "If you are healthy, you tend to feed your dog healthily too. It rubs off," he says.

Ms Melissa Lim, 37, a committee member of the Cat Welfare Society, put her seven rescue cats on a raw food diet of primarily raw meat mixed with vegetables and grains last year.

She has been a vegetarian and on-off vegan for the last 21 years, and the switch from commercially produced kibble to raw food was related to her interest in holistic, healthy and conscious eating.

"I was getting freaked out by the many food recalls of commercial premium food brands. I did some research and realized that many pet food brands use rendered meat and meat by – products, and I did not feel comfortable feeding such items to my cats."

She did research online and spoke to vets before putting her cats on a raw diet of antibiotic- and hormone-free chicken or premium beef, pork, or lamb, which she mixes with a raw food vitamin mix such as Alnutrin, and freezes into portions to feed. She thaws the food when needed and feeds her pets twice a day.

She says she spends about $150 a month and an hour a week preparing the food. Feeding her cats a raw diet costs just as much as feeding them premium canned cat food, she says, but with added benefits.

"I have noticed a huge improvement in their health. More vitality, no more over-weight pets and in the case of one cat, it cured him of his chronic constipation," she says.

Self-employed trader Paresh K. Kamani, 51, feeds his family's 10-month-old golden retriever Argo a mix of Natural Balance vegetarian formula kibble and vegetarian canned food.

He spent hours researching the dog's nutrition requirement online and speaking with vets before committing to the vegetarian diet for the dog. Argo also gets vitamins, and health and bone supplements with every meal.

However, some vets remain skeptical of home-made food and of raw food, in particular.

Their primary concerns are that the meal may not contain all the necessary nutrients for good health and that handling raw food improperly may cause the pet and its owner to fall ill.

Pet experts tell Life! that animals have finely tuned nutritional needs which may not be met by home-made meals, even if they include supplements.

A spokeman for Pet Lover's Centre says that vitamin deficiencies are a problem as much as vitamin over-loads.

"Vitamin A deficiencies are a problem as much as vitamin over-loads.

"Vitamin A deficiencies have been known to cause eye problems, lack of coat and skin quality, poor growth and a reduced ability to ward off infections, but too much vitamin A can cause your dog to have muscle weakness and bone problems," she says.

Likewise, too much or too little calcium during a dog's early years can lead to as many problems for bone health too, says Dr Vanessa Lin, a vet at My Family Vet Clinic and Surgery in Bukit Batok.

Experts point out that the animal's physiology, age and energy requirements should be considered when selecting their diet. What you serve your pets will depend on the animal and its stage in life, and should be determined with the help of a vet.

There may be a bridge across the divide, however, as more organic, sustainable and vegetarian commercial pet-food options enter the market.

Pet accessory and grooming shops, including Doll House Pets in Kampong Bahru, sell Biologically Appropriate Raw Food (Barf). These are pre-packaged, commercially developed raw food meals sold in packs which can be defrosted and served. They are on sale in stores and online at the Barf Singapore website, at $60 for 12 individual 8oz patties.

Alternatively, there is Fish4Dogs, a range of premium dog foods and treats made primarily from Norwegian salmon, which is available at Pet Lovers Centre at $27.75 for 1.5kg.

Commercial pet foods such as Natural Balance should meet the nutritional requirements for pets in order to be sold in stores, though buyers should research online and check with their vet to be sure.

Dr Ong also reminds owners not to serve pets leftovers from the table. "We have seen pets come in for vomiting, diarrhea or life-threatening issues such as pancreatitis, resulting from being fed table scraps by their owners.

Source: The Straits Times, Saturday, April 6, 2013
~ by Lydia Vasko