Unsung heroes: Retired sniffer dogs find new homes

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SINGAPORE: After years of dedicated service, sniffer dog Moss retired recently.

The seven-year-old cocker spaniel had spent his career tracking down narcotics at Changi Prison, but it was time to slow down and enjoy the quiet life. Until recently, that would have meant staying in Singapore Police Force (SPF) kennels.

But a more comfortable retirement is on the cards, as last week he was adopted by 21-year-old Toh Thak Sin, who was posted to the SPF K-9 Unit in August 2015, five months into his national service.

Moss spending time with Toh Thak Sin below his new home in Geylang Bahru. (Photo: Ria Chen)

Moss seems thrilled in his new neighbourhood. (Photo: Ria Chen)

“We trained together at K-9 HQ and that’s where I fell in love with him,” Toh said. “You know when you meet someone and it just clicks?”

Moss is the first dog to be adopted as part of a scheme to allow handlers from the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) and SPF’s K-9 units and the Singapore Armed Forces’ Military Working Dog Unit (MWDU) to home retired canine friends in their HDB flats.

The majority of sniffer dogs are English springer spaniels, Labrador retrievers, German shepherds or Belgian shepherds. Due to their larger size, the German shepherds and Belgian shepherds are only allowed to live in landed properties, while spaniels and Labrador retrievers can live in HDB estates.

Assimilating into civilian life takes a couple of days for the dogs. “When he first entered my house he thought he was doing a new mission so he went about sniffing the parameters, doing his job like a narcotics detector dog. After a few days he realised that this mission is taking quite long and that maybe this was his new home,” quipped Toh.

Eugene Wang, 25, is another full-time national serviceman who wants to give a home to his canine partner. He has spent the past eight months since joining the SCDF Search Platoon working with Ted, an eight-year-old Labrador retriever.

Just another day in the office for Ted and his handler, Eugene Wang. (Photo: Ria Chen)

Wang is delighted at the possibility of bringing Ted home to his four-room HDB flat in Jurong East. “This means that I don’t have to lose a friend that has been with me throughout my two years in national service. I want to continue this friendship and bond with Ted till the end of his life.” Ted is due to retire in the middle of next year.

The adoption process for working dogs takes place between March and April each year. During this period, handlers can express interest in adopting these canines.

Since the announcement of the scheme, 15 officers from the SPF have expressed interest to bring the dogs back to their HDB homes.

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