Buyers paying thousands as dog prices more than double from last year
Pooch lovers here pay thousands for a pet even as prices more than double from last year
Would you pay more than $12,000 for a dog? Some Singaporeans can - and will. And demand for these costly canines shows no signs of abating, despite prices for many breeds ballooning since last year.
Pet shops told The Straits Times a golden retriever can cost up to $12,800, compared with about $5,000 last January. A toy poodle can go for as much as $11,800, when one cost around $4,000 in the previous year.
Demand for puppies surged right after the circuit breaker ended, and all five shops suggest that prices will continue to rise.
Dogs are imported from countries such as Ireland, Taiwan and Australia, or come from local breeders.
Nanyang Technological University student Isabel Joy Kua, 20, who bought her three-month-old bichon frise, Sunny, for $8,900 last month, said: "Several shops tried to get me to reserve a dog even before I interacted with it, which didn't make sense. But they said if I went the next day, the dog would probably have been bought by another customer."
Buyers said they were willing to pay "pandemic premiums" due to money saved from cancelled holidays and work-from-home arrangements.
Ms Kua had wanted a dog since primary school and finally managed to persuade her parents to let her buy one.
Others like Ms Joanna Cheng-Ajlani, chose to adopt dogs from animal shelters instead.
"To be honest, if not for the change in work arrangements for both my husband and me, we would not have even considered a pet," said Ms Cheng-Ajlani, who adopted nine-year-old Polo, a Singapore Special, from Action for Singapore Dogs (ASD).
Depending on the animal shelter, adopting a dog can cost between $250 and $530.
While adoption queries were reported to have increased last August, the number of adoptions have returned to pre-pandemic levels for animal welfare groups Causes for Animals (CAS) and Save Our Street Dogs.
Mr Ricky Yeo, founder of ASD, said: "We are always operating at full capacity. While adoptions peaked... last year, the take-in rate is still high."
The organisation shelters around 150 dogs, of which 90 per cent are Singapore Specials.
CAS fund-raising coordinator Christine Bernadette said while there is nothing intrinsically wrong with buying dogs, it is important to get them from ethical breeders.
"Many buyers are unaware about the conditions the parents of their dogs are subjected to, which often means being caged and kept alive just for breeding," Ms Bernadette, 32, added,
"There needs to be more education on the cruelty of puppy mills."
- ADDITIONAL REPORTING: SHERLYN SIM
More pet owners and feeders struggle with animal upkeep
Hard hit by the pandemic, several community feeders and pet owners are asking animal welfare organisations for help.
Due to overwhelming demand, the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) has expanded its pet food support programme fund from $50,000 to $230,000.
The programme, which began last August, is now on track to provide three to six months' worth of food for the 1,832 animals registered under 629 applicants.
It plans to provide for common domestic animals such as dogs, cats, rabbits and fish.
Of the $230,000, $150,000 comes from SPCA's funds. The remaining $80,000 came from a recent public fund-raiser.
SPCA has recently applied for a dollar-for-dollar matching grant from the Tote Board to boost the fund, which was set up to help pet owners affected by the pandemic.
SPCA's executive director, Dr Jaipal Singh Gill, 38, said it received an unusual number of calls for help from pet owners about pet food around the middle of last year.
Within 24 hours of the launch of the fund, SPCA received several hundred applications.
Pet owners can apply for support for up to three pets at home, and five if they are feeding animals in the community.
Dr Gill, a veterinarian, said the applications "came from people out of work because of the pandemic, or freelancers not getting work but who don't want to give up their pets".
Applicants like former interior designer Mariani Basri, 44, who lost her job amid the pandemic, was worried about coping with the food expenses of her four cats as well as making ends meet as a single mother of three.
"Thankfully, with SPCA's help, I no longer have to worry about this issue," she said.
Dr Gill said the process of going through applications was both heartbreaking and heart-warming, as despite their personal suffering, many pet owners and feeders were still trying their best to provide for their animals.
"It wasn't any one case that stuck with me but the general theme of people losing their jobs and not having sufficient funds to look after themselves and their families but still looking after animals and not wanting them to go hungry," he said.
- NG WEI KAI & ANG QING