Adopting a dog from a shelter or welfare organisation

Some of you may know that Cotton, our estimated 4 year old Maltese, was adopted from Hope Dog Rescue, one of the many welfare organisations in Singapore, specific to dogs and the occasional cat.

image (22)

Each welfare organisation has it’s own “specialty” such as:
1. Hope Dog Rescue – No shelter, hence only having the capacity to help the dogs in urgent need of care or with special needs, such as SiDa, Matthieu, Baby Harper, puppy Duchess, Elmo, Prince, Sunny and Ah Boy.

2. Voices For Animals – Rescuing ex-breeding dogs

3. Save our Street Dogs, Gentle Paws, Mdm Wong’s Shelter and Friends – With a larger capacity and a shelter, able to rescue more dogs and puppies, with mass outings and rehabilitation services for the rescued dogs

Adopting a dog may seem daunting at first. There are questionnaires and application forms to fill, home stays, and an average of 2-3 home visits after the adoption has been confirmed. It may seem quite the hassle, but in all honesty, we enjoy these visits by the volunteers, if all but to show them that Cotton is happy with us 😀

It also helps a lot especially for first time dog owners like us. The experienced volunteers help and explain certain issues that make adapting to another living being in your house much easier.

Cotton loves it when HDR’s volunteers come; she gets so excited as she associates them with going out (to adoption events) and meeting new people.

Adoption fees usually range from $150-$350, to cover the cost of sterilisation, food and medical care that was used on your adopted dog. The fees will then be used to offset the fees for other rescued dogs.

Are shelter dogs damaged?

I am a proponent of adoption, and it saddens me whenever I hear people say that shelter dogs or dogs available for adoption are damaged or with behavioural issues, less intelligent, less cuddly, less affectionate, less lovable, etc. It is true that some shelter dogs are in need of an overhaul, some dogs are in need of medication (like Cotton), and some dogs require rehabilitation, most possibly due to the trauma faced from past owners. 

But emotionally and honestly speaking, what’s love without challenges here and there? Sure, it can be rather exasperating when I can’t bring Cotton into enclosed spaces such as pet shops, grooming centres, dog cafes without her getting scared or defensive, but I wouldn’t trade these experiences for anything. Most of all, what I’m most looking forward to after A levels is training and working with Cotton, to rehabilitate her into a “good canine citizen”, and through that strengthening our bond and trust with each other. 🙂

Most shelter dogs are adults (although there are also a lot of puppies). With adult dogs, it’s unlikely that their temperament, characteristics and behaviour will change throughout the days with you. However, as exciting as raising a puppy may be, you will never know what kind of dog the puppy will grow into, what kind of medical problems it will have, and there are so many dogs given up after a year or two after the puppyhood honeymoon period wears off, and nibbling, play bites, high energy, straining on leash, urinating and pooping everywhere becomes a hassle and annoyance. 

Of course, the cons can sometimes outweigh the pros, but no one is expecting you to be a martyr and adopt the first dog with a multitude of issues (most welfare organisation will not even allow you to take a dog with so many problems back home, but instead rehabilitate the dog and simply let the dog live out it’s life in the shelter)


What is the typical process in adopting a dog?

Most of the organisation’s websites will tell you what a typical adoption process is like, but for each dog, it differs slightly.

Because Cotton is a “purebred” dog with special needs, I think HDR did take extra precautions with us, as they didn’t want us adopting her just for her breed and overlook the fact that she’s sick. Our personal experience was as follows:


Mid October 2013:


Cotton’s adoption listing on PetsChannel

  • Surfed through websites such as PetsChannel trying to find a dog that suited us. Emailed Hope Dog Rescue on Cotton’s availability
  • Received reply from Hope Dog Rescue regarding Cotton’s situation and a form to fill up


Late October:

  • Received a reply that volunteers will be personally bringing Cotton down to our house (2 volunteers plus Founder, Fiona, came down) from her fosterer’s place
  • Received an email a few days later regarding fostering Cotton for a time period, to see whether we were sure of adopting Cotton (with her medical needs) and as first dog owners
  • Received a list of items to prepare for Cotton’s arrival (dog shampoo, dog brushes, dog toys, etc)

Items bought for Cotton


Early November:

photo 2

Cotton’s first day home

  • Cotton came to stay with us, very smooth and easy period
  • Updated case volunteer almost daily regarding Cotton and any questions we had
  • Volunteers came down to teach us how to cook for, bathe and walk Cotton


Mid November:

photo 1

Cotton after spaying

  • Cotton sent for spaying, stayed overnight at Mount Pleasant for a night (in case of a seizure from the confusion of GA)
  • Volunteers came down to apply revolution on her


30 November:

  • Received confirmation of Cotton’s successful adoption
  • Received email on licensing her with AVA and petcall, and precautionary measures as a responsible dog owner

So in total there were about 3 visits from the volunteers to our house, and there will be one more final one coming soon 🙂

It was a very enlightening process and it truly made me have an even greater respect for all these welfare organisations.

Apart from adopting from shelters or welfare organisations, there are also many pups available for rehoming and adoption, due to impulse buying, owners leaving the country, sudden onset of allergies, and other excuses.

Here are some resources for you (in Singapore), where you can find potential pups for adoption:

  1. PetsChannel Adoption Board
  2. Facebook pages and groups: Dog Mill Rehomers | Singapore Pet Adoption | Pets looking for adoption | Purely Adoptions
  3. Welfare organisations: Hope Dog Rescue | Save our Street Dogs | Gentle Paws | Action for Singapore Dogs | SPCA | Voices for Animals | Animal Lovers League
  4. Rehoming platforms: SPCA Rehoming Board | Lost Paws

Adopt; don’t shop, don’t abandon!

Jamie and Cotton

Visit Cotton’s Instagram here!

3 thoughts on “Adopting a dog from a shelter or welfare organisation

  1. scifihammy says:

    Excellent post 🙂 Very informative. I agree – I would always adopt a rescued dog. Well I am on my 6th! I like that you don’t sugar-coat the process you went through. Some people think they can just walk into an organisation and go home with a dog! But the good centres match each dog to the right owner, so it can go to a forever home, and not be returned. I love reading your posts on Cotton, and seeing her photos. Keep it up 🙂

    • cottonthemaltese says:

      Thanks! 🙂 That means a lot to me 😀 Awesome for adopting 6 so far. How many dogs do you have currently? 🙂 Here in Singapore, the max you can go is 4, and provided that you live in a house. (90% of Singaporeans live in apartments due to high density) Yes, agreed! Many have that misconception, and some use it as an excuse to not adopt a dog and instead buy one. Most of the animal welfare groups here in Singapore would rather wait out for an owner than rush out the adoption process, and probably 99% of the dogs adopted out get forever homes 🙂 They also have a “no questions asked” policy if the fostering goes awry or if you need to give up your dog for whatever reason 🙂 But adoption here is still working it’s way up, around 90% of dogs up for adoption are the local mongrels that mostly aren’t smaller than 10kg, not “designer” enough for some! Most of the elderly also sneer at mongrels as they feel they shouldn’t be kept as pets and are feral. Also, a lot of restrictions for those keeping dogs in government apartments (around 70-80% of the population), only 1 dog under 15kg and certain shoulder height is permitted 😦 yay thanks again! 🙂

      • scifihammy says:

        I have 2 dogs now – most I ever had at one time was 3. There are rules here now, as to how many animals you are allowed depending on your property size, but pretty lenient. It was mostly to prevent eg 10 dogs on a property! Rescued is the best breed! 😀

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