Pet adoption in Singapore


Adopting a pet is always a noble act. After all, plenty of cats, dogs and even small animals like rabbits and hamsters are in need of loving homes. 

Despite the availability of many prospective furkids out there, the pet adoption process can be a blur to first-timers. For those looking for a new furry family member, this guide on pet adoption details the costs of caring for a pet, where you can adopt one from, and how the process is usually carried out.

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Things to consider before adopting a pet


Deciding to adopt a pet is exciting – after all, you’re about to welcome a new furry companion into your life. Before you jump the gun, it’s important to know that adopting a pet is a huge responsibility. 

Pet owners need to be prepared to care for their furkids for many years to come. That’s why the Animal & Veterinary Service (AVS) has a simple checklist for you to consider first: 

Pet adoption in Singapore - Pet owner checklist
Image adapted from: NParks


Cost of pet adoption in Singapore


Nearly every pawrent will agree on one thing: it can cost a pretty penny to own one. That’s why it’s important to ensure you have sufficient finances to care for your pet for life. You also have to take unexpected large medical bills into account, in case your pet falls ill or develops conditions as they age. 

To prep you for the potential costs, we’ve done a rough breakdown of what you can expect when you adopt a dog, cat, rabbit, hamster and guinea pig. 


Dogs


Pet adoption in Singapore - Dog treats and diet

Doggos come in all shapes and sizes, but one thing’s for sure: their companionship is unmatched. Needless to say, you’ll want to do your best to care for your new buddy. 

Adoption fees typically cost between $70 – $350. Purebred dogs and puppies tend to cost a little more as they’re usually in higher demand. The good news is, some shelters cover vaccinations, sterilisation, microchipping, de-worming and the initial health check-ups in their adoption fees. 

As for upkeep costs, it’ll differ depending on the breed, size, age, behaviour and health history of your dog. For example, larger dogs would require more food daily, while long-haired dogs may need regular professional grooming. 

Here are other important costs to take note of: 

  • Sterilisation: This can be anywhere upwards of $300. The cost tends to be higher for female dogs.
  • Microchip: A one-time fee of $60. This is usually covered when you adopt from a shelter.
  • Dog license: From $35. More info on dog licensing.
  • Accessories: Varies depending on how much you want to splurge on your dog. You can expect to spend from $60 upwards for accessories such as a collar (~$20), leash (~$20) and stainless steel or ceramic food bowl (~$20).
  • Toys and treats: Be sure to get some toys for your doggo too, and treats for their well-being. These can add up to about $20 upwards per month. 
  • Food: Depends on the type and brand of food you buy. A 1.5KG bag of kibbles that provide adequate nutrition costs from about $35. It’s recommended to provide a mix of quality kibbles and wet food for a healthy and balanced diet, which may cost more. 
  • Vet visits: From $65/year for adult dogs for booster vaccination shots and a general health check. Note that vet bills can go up to hundreds or thousands of dollars if your dog falls seriously ill or gets into an accident. 

Pet adoption in Singapore - dog grooming

Those who require grooming for their dogs can also expect to fork out between $40 – $200 for each session. Dog owners are also recommended to send their furkids for obedience training, which costs from $400 upward for a package of eight group sessions. 

Find out more about the full cost breakdown of owning a dog. Those who live in HDB flats can also check out Project ADORE if you’re looking to adopt a larger dog. 


Cats


Cats may seem like independent creatures, but they actually require a good amount of care, and lots of basic necessities. Besides stocking up on food and kitty litter, you will have to invest in scratching posts and cat furniture to encourage your cat to use them instead of your sofa.

Pet adoption in Singapore - cats

Adoption fees can be as low as $25, or can even be free, and can go up to $200, depending on the cat’s breed and age. Similar to dogs, long-hair or purebred cats and kittens generally tend to cost more. Likewise, essential medical treatments like sterilisation and de-worming are usually factored in with the adoption costs if you adopt from a shelter.

Here are other costs to take note of:

  • Sterilisation: From $150
  • Microchip: From $50 
  • Cat accessories: Basic necessities can add up to about $200 and above. A good quality litter box (~$25) and cat tree (~$180) is needed so that you don’t end up having to frequently replace them. Likewise, opt for a ceramic or steel bowl (~$20) for your kitty.
  • Cat food: Prices vary depending on brand and type, but you can expect to spend about $25 for a 1.5KG bag of decent-quality kibbles. Again it’s recommended to have a mix of wet and dry food for your cat, so you can expect to spend more overall. Cat food costs from about $1.20/can. 
  • Cat litter: Also depends on brand and type. A 7KG bag of litter costs from about $6.50, which can last a month for one cat. You should prepare extra litter boxes if you have more than one cat. The ratio should always be one litter box per cat, plus an additional box. So if you have two cats, you should have at least three separate litter boxes. 
  • Vet visits: Consultations average from $35, while annual vaccinations, a basic health check and de-worming also cost from about $50 onwards. The cost of treatments can also vary depending on its severity, but in extreme cases such as chronic illnesses and accidents, it can cost up to several thousands of dollars. 

Pet adoption in Singapore -grills
Window grill gaps should measure about 1-2 inches, or should be meshed completely. Don’t forget to mesh your gate to prevent your cat from escaping.
Image credit: @kobe.and.mochi

Cats are naturally curious animals so it’s essential that cat owners also consider the cost of cat-proofing their home. 

You can opt to mesh your windows or install grills to prevent your cats from escaping or falling. Grills cost from about $1,000 for a typical three-room flat. Alternatively, you can DIY mesh your home for about $10 for a 1M x 1.5M mesh. It’s important to ensure your mesh is secure so that your cat is unable to rip it off and escape. 

Find out more on what to prepare if you’re a first-time cat owner.


Rabbits, hamsters, and guinea pigs


Pet adoption in Singapore - Rabbits

Those who prefer a small pet can consider adopting a rabbit, hamster or guinea pig. These aren’t excluded from the same care and commitment one should give cats and dogs. 

Rabbits:

  • Adoption fee: Varies between $10 – $50.
  • Accessories: You can expect to spend about $60 upwards for a basic set up, such as bedding (~$5), chew toys (~$10) and a playpen (~$50).
  • Consumables: A month’s supply of green veggies (~$3/day), hay (~$40) and pellets (~$30) can cost about $160.
  • Rabbit haemorrhagic disease (RHDV) vaccine: From ~$75.

Hamsters: 

  • Adoption fee: Between $10 – $20.
  • Accessories: Necessities such as a hamster cage that comes with accessories like a hamster wheel, hideouts and bedding costs about ~$150. 
  • Consumables: A 500G bag of good quality hamster food costs about $11. You can also give them some fruits and veggies as healthy snacks.

Guinea Pigs:

  • Adoption fees: Can go up to about $180. Some agencies throw in starter kits that include food and accessories.
  • Accessories: Basic necessities such as a cage, bedding and fleece liners cost about ~$100 upwards.
  • Consumables: A 2KG bag of pellets costs about $13, and you’ll have to include Vitamin C supplements (~$16) as well as fresh fruits and veggies for a healthy diet.

Just like cats and dogs, the vet bills for these pets can vary depending on the treatment they need. 


Breakdown of the adoption process


Adoption processes can differ between pet adoption agencies. Nevertheless, here’s a basic rundown of what you can expect:


Step 1:  Contact an animal welfare group


First off, adopting a pet isn’t as straightforward as simply picking a stray off the street, which is a huge no-no. After all, it could be a community pet with dedicated carers, or it could even be someone’s roaming or lost pet. 

First-time pet owners can instead contact an animal welfare group to kick start the adoption process. 

Pet adoption in Singapore - adoption agency
Image credit:
SPCA

Besides heading to Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) which has a myriad of pets up for adoption, here’s a list of agencies to consider: 

Pet adoption agencies Animals you can adopt
House Rabbit Society Singapore Rabbits
Bunny Wonderland Rabbits
Hamster Society  Hamsters
Guinea Pig Rescue SG  Guinea pigs
Action for Singapore Dogs Dogs
Causes for Animals (Singapore)  Dogs
Exclusively Mongrels  Dogs
Mercylight Dogs
Oasis Second Chance Animal Shelter (OSCAS) Dogs
SOSD Dogs
Cat Welfare Society Cats
Kitten Sanctuary Cats
Project Luni Cats
Animals Lovers League Dogs and cats
Noah’s Ark CARES Dogs and cats
Purely Adoptions Dogs and cats
Voices For Animals Various animals

More info on where to adopt pets.


Step 2: Identify a pet to adopt


With social distancing restrictions in place, most pet adoption agencies require advance bookings for appointments. With this in mind, you may want to identify a pet to adopt ahead of time. 

Pet adoption in Singapore - adoption listings
Image adapted from:
Cat Welfare Society

Most places will have a list of pets that are up for adoption online. You can usually view their photos and general info such as their age, sex and personality traits. From here, you can see whether a pet is suitable for households with kids, how affectionate it is, or what kind of energy level you can expect from it.

You’ll also want to take note if a pet has any existing medical conditions that may require extra care. 

Note: Consider adopting an older pet as these are the ones that are often overlooked. Whether they come with age or health conditions, they can be just as loving – or even more loving – than any other pet out there!


Step 3: Go through the pet adoption agency’s screening process


First-timers may not be aware of this, but most pet adoption agencies require you to go through a screening process before you can adopt a pet. After all, they want to make sure these pets are going to the best possible homes, and that adopters won’t end up changing their minds after getting their pet. 

Pet adoption in Singapore - owning a dog

You can expect to fill up a questionnaire or even go through an interview with the agency to assess your suitability. 

Some screening processes might also be specific to the animal you’re adopting. For example, new cat owners who live in high rise buildings will need to ensure that their windows and gates are fully meshed or grilled. 


Step 4: Face-to-face meetups with your pet-to-be


Adding a pet to your family is like getting into a long-term relationship. Before you commit, you’ll want to get a feel of their personality and energy to see if it’s a good match. That’s why it’s important to have a face-to-face session with your prospective pet before bringing it home.

Pet adoption in Singapore -dog

Most pet adoption agencies allow this, so don’t skip this step. SPCA, for example, has dedicated spaces at their facility where you can interact with prospective pets before making your decision. 


Step 5: Home visits and trial runs


Pet adoption in Singapore - pet home visits

While you might be eager to take home your new snuggle buddy, some pet adoption agencies require a mandatory home visit to assess your living conditions and see if it’s suitable for your pet. 

Some agencies may also offer a trial stay that can go up to a couple of weeks. During this time, you’ll be able to bond, assess your relationship, and bring up any concerns or issues you may have about your pet. 

Settling into a new home and adapting to domestic life may not come as a breeze for pets that come from rough backgrounds such as strays or pets that were formerly neglected. Nevertheless, it’s always important to go into this experience with patience and understanding. That’s because it usually takes time and effort for some pets to warm up to their new owner and home.


Step 6: Finalise the adoption form and fee


Pet adoption in Singapore - owning a dog

After approval from the agency, you will proceed to sign the adoption form as a legal agreement. Some animal welfare groups have an adoption agreement as well that you should look through carefully and understand before signing. 

This is also the part where you’ll have to pay the non-refundable adoption fee, if any. This is usually to help the agency offset some of the costs for boarding and vet bills.  

After that, give yourself a pat on the back because you’ve just adopted a furkid in need!


Avoid backyard breeders


We have to point out here that it’s important for first-time pet owners to distinguish between genuine adoptions and illegal backyard breeders (BYB). This is because BYBs usually mask their fees as “adoption fees”. 

Here are some simple ways to suss out a BYB:

  • The pet has no medical history, such as vaccinations and deworming. 
  • You are charged a fee that’s usually lower than that of pet stores, but higher than regular adoption fees. 
  • Some may claim that the fees are for medical bills, but are unable to provide proof of receipts.

More info on backyard breeding from Sayang Our Singapore’s Community Cats.


How to adopt a pet in Singapore


Pet owners will agree that the companionship of furkids is something that’s irreplaceable. Nevertheless, it’s important that you’re absolutely sure and ready to adopt one as owning a pet is a huge responsibility and commitment. 

If you’re looking to expand your family to a rescued pet, this guide will come in handy to kick start your pet adoption journey. Adopting a pet requires many considerations, but you’ll be sure to have a mutually rewarding experience with a furriend by your side.  

Check out these articles on things to buy for your pets:


Cover image adapted from: @_tinyterrors