In light of multiple animal abuse and cruelty cases rising in Singapore, from the Yishun cat killer to the infamous Platinum Dogs Club, we’re compelled and inspired as a brand and animal lovers to spread awareness for animal kindness this new year.
We spoke to and visited Sock who works full time at Mutts n Mittens, a commercial boarding facility and a no-kill animal shelter since 2003.
Q. Hi Sock, thanks for having us at your facility! Can you tell us a little more about Mutts n Mittens?
Hi! Mutts n Mittens started as a commercial boarding facility. Along the way, more and more rescued animals stepped through our gates. Some were strays, some were abandoned and others were sent to the vet by their owners, to be put to sleep. Under our roof, we have about 80 rescued dogs and cats with no owners or sponsors. Half of which are old and in need of medical care or special diets.
We sustain our work through commercial boarding for pets and subsidised boarding for strays and pet transport. We are in the midst of starting a training school to help dogs with behavioural issues, especially for animal welfare groups. Hopefully, we will help them ease the process of rehoming their animals.
Q. What is your role at Mutts n Mittens? What is your day like?
I facilitate the adoption process of our dogs. I also organize events with volunteers, customer service, marketing and managing the front office.
My normal day would be updating our customers regarding the dogs that are boarded with us, replying and following up on all enquiries and posting on social media. Sometimes when our driver is not around, we will take turns to do transport too.
Q. Mutts n Mittens is a shelter and you care for many abused and abandoned animals, but you are a business at the end of the day that needs to stay afloat. What are your key challenges?
The main challenge for us in our current location, Sungei Tengah, is the high rental and the location. We moved from a former facility at Pasir Ris Farmway.
Because of the move, we had to relocate our cats to Lucky Cat Inn @ Guillemard Road. We have spent a huge sum of money to do a major renovation on both facilities before moving in to ensure that the animals are in a comfortable environment.
- Their current location at 59 Sungei Tengah Road, Block B
Q. If someone is interested in volunteering, how does he or she go about it?
The minimum age to start is 15 years old. They have to keep a lookout on our Facebook page for the orientation intake and write in to register. During orientation, our senior volunteers will teach them more about how to walk and shower the dogs.
Q. Are there certain days that are usually short of volunteers of help or staff?
We are normally short of volunteers during weekdays as most of them have their own commitments.
Q. In which areas do you need help the most?
Given the small space that we have as compared to before, we need the most help in bringing the dogs out for walks more often so that they can enjoy the outside world instead of being cooped up in a small room.
- The By Invite Only team walking the seniors in their retirement village
Q. What is your adoption process like?
We will require the interested family to come down a few times to learn how to walk and shower the dog(s) they intend to adopt and also interact with them. After that, I will do a home visit to ensure that the home environment is okay and we will arrange for a home trial for a month.
During the trial, they can see if the dog is suitable for their family lifestyle. If they find the dog unsuitable, we will take the dog back into our care.
Q. How can a person help besides volunteering at Mutts n Mittens, or adopting an animal from your facility?
People can help share our website and Facebook posts on social media to help us create more awareness for our boarding facilities. We hope that in time, we can earn enough from our boarding services to help subsidize the animal welfare groups that are boarding their rescue dogs with us.
People can also help by donating items like pee pads, canned food, supplements ...etc to us too!
Q. In light of the recent dog abuse case by the infamous Platinum Dogs Club, do you have any tips for pet owners to help them identify legitimate dog boarding facilities in Singapore?
I think that most importantly, pet owners have to do their homework before deciding on a boarding place for their pets. They have to visit the premises and learn how the boarding facility functions. Read up on reviews and understand if they have the basic knowledge of identifying pets when they are sick.
Actually, home boarding is illegal as the home is under residential under URA and cannot be used to run businesses.
Q. Do the dogs or animals you board get any interaction with dogs that are up for adoption?
We only socialize our own dogs or long term boarding dogs if their owners allow us to do so. For short term boarding dogs, we do not interact them with other dogs as we want to prevent bite accidents from happening during their stay here.
Q. Working with Mutts n Mittens for 3 years, you must have your fair share of stories. Anyone in particular that pulls at your heartstrings?
About 2 years ago, an auntie visited us at our Paris Ris Farmway facility and said that she has a dog and don't want to keep it anymore. We asked her why and she said that nobody wants to take care of it. When we saw the dog, we were in distraught. The condition of the dog is so bad, we can't see its eyes, the nails were so long and the dog looked like a monster and smelled like pee.
We decided to take him in and the owner was more than happy. She left the dog with us and ignored its whines and barks. I felt so angry that she was so cold-hearted and told her "Hey, your dog is calling for you." She ignored me and just walked away quickly. The dog was heartbroken and stared at the door for about an hour till we brought him for a shower and to the vet.
After making sure he is healthy, we put him up for adoption and named him Teddy. Thankfully, a very nice family adopted him and another small dog from us. Teddy and his new family still come back to visit us yearly during our Christmas gatherings.
We're collaborating with Mutts n Mittens through The Animal Lover Collection. S$10 will be donated to them for every design sold in this limited series. This donation will go towards caring for these abandoned and abused animals now living at Mutts n Mittens. For more information about Mutts n Mittens, visit their website here.