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Project ADORE: Rehoming Rescue Dogs




Are you an HDB flat owner who has been wishing to adopt a larger dog but has been put off by the laws and regulations that make it difficult? Worry no more, because thanks to Project ADORE, your dream of owning a bigger pet can now become a reality. 


What is Project ADORE?



Project ADORE (ADOption and REhoming of dogs) is a scheme allowing HDB residents to own large, local mixed breed dogs (also known as Singapore Specials) and provide them a permanent, loving home. It was initiated by Action for Singapore Dogs (ASD) and the Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) and supported by the Ministry of National Development (MND), Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA), and Housing Development Board (HDB). 


ASD first approached the authorities in 2004 with the intention of allowing HDB residents to adopt Singapore Specials, but was unsuccessful. It wasn't until the SPCA joined in and the two animal welfare organizations submitted a proposal that they were able to get the go-ahead from MND, AVA, and HDB.  


Today, Project ADORE is currently led by the Animal & Veterinary Service (AVS), a cluster under the National Parks Board (NParks), with four more animal welfare groups joining in – SOSD Singapore, Exclusively Mongrels (EM), Causes for Animals (CAS) and Mercylight Animal Rescue & Sanctuary Limited (MARS). 


The program started as a pilot project in 2012 and was well-received by the public. Observations showed that HDB residents were open to large dog breeds in their neighborhoods if dog owners acted responsibly and proper channels for dispute resolution were in place. Project ADORE then became a permanent scheme in May 2014, with Minister of State for National Development Desmond Lee formalizing it in Parliament.


During that period, HDB residents were only allowed to adopt dogs that were 50 cm tall and weighed 15 kg. However, in March 2020, the height requirement was increased to 55 cm and the weight requirement was lifted. 


What types of dogs can you adopt under Project ADORE?

Singapore Specials




A common misconception is that a Singapore Special is a dog breed. It actually refers to a local canine that was bred on the streets. They are the result of generations of natural mixing between different dog breeds. Because of their larger sizes, some of them are thought to be descended from German Shepherds or Rottweilers.


Singapore Specials, which are often referred to as mongrels, come from kampong or farm dogs that were not kept as pets. Singapore’s urbanization changed their surroundings and resulted in them becoming strays. Yet, they’ve been highly adaptable to the changed conditions and are able to fend for themselves since they were young. 


Thanks to the efforts of various animal welfare organizations, many Singapore Specials are now rescue dogs. They are now being housed in local dog pounds, waiting to be rehomed to loving pet owners who will care for them.


Despite their mixed heritage, Singapore Specials are often loving, loyal, and make excellent pets. Singapore Specials are quick-witted and sharp because they've been fending for themselves since they were puppies. They learn quickly and remember everything you say or do to them.


They are thought to adjust better and faster to a wide range of living conditions due to their mixed genes. Singapore Specials will adjust well with proper care and attention to their needs.


Retired Dog Sniffers

These canines are from the Singapore Police Force (SPF), Singapore Civil Defence Force SCDF) K-9 units, and the SAF Military Working Dog Unit (MWDU). They’re service dogs that have contributed to Singapore’s safety and security while on active duty.


Back then, K-9 and MWDU dog handlers who reside in HDB flats have expressed interest in adopting these service dogs once they are retired. They train and work with them on a daily basis so that they have formed close bonds, and have become experienced in managing these well-trained dogs. However, K-9 and MWDU dog handlers have been unable to adopt their retired dogs as the size and breeds do not meet existing HDB regulations.


Thankfully, after Project ADORE was launched in 2012 and received positive feedback, it expanded its pilot program and finally allowed K-9 and MWDU dog handlers to adopt their retired dog sniffers in 2017. Labradors, English Springers, Cocker Spaniels, and Pointers are among the sniffer dog breeds that are permitted. And in 2021, public HDB residents are able to do the same.


Requirements for the adoption process

For dogs

To be approved under Project ADORE, Singapore Specials and retired sniffer dogs should meet the following criteria:



  • At least 6 months old and have shoulder heights up to 55 cm. Under the new criterion, Singaporeans who live in HDB flats can now adopt larger dogs of up to 55 cm with proper ownership conditions.


  • Should be sterilized, microchipped, and received routinary vaccinations. Sterilizing your dog helps to prevent complicated health problems and unnecessary breeding. This may cost around S$150 – S$500, depending on your dog’s size and breed. Female dogs are generally more expensive to sterilize as compared to male dogs.


A microchip, on the other hand, is like a personal identification that can’t be removed. It helps you locate your pet in the event that they go missing. This procedure costs around S$50 – S$90. As for vaccinations, these help keep your dog healthy and protected from serious, and some cases, deadly diseases. This may cost around S$50 - S$100.


  • Undergo compulsory basic obedience training by AVS-accredited trainers. New owners must enroll their Singapore Specials in basic obedience and socialization programmes by approved dog trainers by the Animal and Veterinary Service (AVS).


During obedience training, you’ll be taught how to teach your dog basic obedience commands such as ‘sit’, ‘down’, ‘recall’, ‘stay’ and ‘heel’. And for socialization, you’ll learn how to guide your dog in social interactions. This includes walking through crowds, interacting with other dogs and reacting to distractions.


One of the most important things to take note of when training a Singapore Special is patience. These dogs have been out in the streets for the majority of their life, so adjusting to a domestic life may take more effort. 


As training may take time, you need to be patient and maintain consistency. Always use a firm but positive tone when training your dog. This encourages them and also educates them on appropriate conduct. Whenever they display good behavior or reach a milestone, reward them with a well-deserved dog treat.


Retired dog sniffers need not undergo training as they’ve already been trained for obedience commands as soon as they joined law enforcement’s K-9 units.



For adopters

To be approved under Project ADORE, adopters should meet the following criteria: 





  • Sign a declaration that you will observe the Code of Responsible Behavior (CORB). The Code of Responsible Behavior for Pet Owners in Singapore is a set of guidelines established by the Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) to promote responsible pet ownership and improve the welfare of animals.


Following the CORB not only can help to improve the welfare of animals but also promote harmonious relationships between pet owners and their communities.


It is important to note that the code of responsible behavior is not a law, but a set of guidelines that pet owners are encouraged to follow. However, certain elements of the code may be enforced by law, for example, the registration and microchipping of dogs, vaccination against diseases, and preventing pet-related nuisance.


  • Understand that only 1 registered dog is allowed per HDB household. Under HDB regulations, owners are only allowed to keep 1 dog from the list of approved breeds per home. Breaching this regulation will result in a fine of up to $4,000.


  • Check that your immediate neighbors are agreeable to you having the dog. HDB has regulations in place to ensure that residents can live harmoniously without uninvited disruptions. But as a pet owner, you’re responsible for taking care of your dog and ensuring that they do not cause any inconvenience to your neighbors. 


For example, you should make sure your pet does not bark excessively, their waste is picked up and disposed promptly, and they are safely secured in your apartment. These are good practices that your neighbors will appreciate and will contribute to greater acceptance.



Licensing is important as it helps in contact tracing if an outbreak of an animal-related disease occurs. A license tag also helps police, animal control and shelters quickly identify your dog and get them back to you safely. If your dog is found wandering the streets, a rescue entity can easily look up your dog via its license identifying number.


Rehoming Singapore Specials and retired K-9 Sniffers

Adopting a dog is a big responsibility, but it’s also a great joy, and Project ADORE has made it easier for you and other HDB flat owners to take the step and provide a loving home to a larger dog in need. It's a noble way of giving these rescue dogs and service dogs a second chance at a happy life.


For more pet care tips and guides, follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok. Pawkit connects Singapore pet owners to a variety of pet-related resources and services. Get everything you need in one place, from the latest pet care tips to your pet’s details and medical history, as well as a directory of on-demand pet services in your area, such as veterinarians, groomers, and daycare.









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