Gentle Paws & Friends, was conceived from the idea of introducing Hall 15 residents to alternative volunteering activities such as caring for abused and abandoned animals; exposing them to the reality that there are other neglected areas in society aside from the better known beneficiary groups such as the elderly, young children and underprivileged families.
For 2016, the chosen welfare organisation was Gentle Paws & Friends – a privately run shelter housing over 40 dogs, taking care of their shelter, food and medical needs. Gentle Paws & Friends is a dog shelter which rescues dogs from the rough and tumble of the streets and wilderness as they actively try to find homes for them through online avenues and adoption drives. For those dogs which are not so lucky, the shelter aims to be a safe haven for these dogs by providing them with proper care and lots of love.
There was a mix of volunteers who had varying prior experiences with dogs; from dog-owners to first-timers who had no prior experience dealing with dogs and some were even afraid of dogs! Nevertheless, they were still interested to participate in the event to overcome their fear and mainly to contribute back to society.
The exercise was carried out over the course of three consecutive Saturdays to allow as many hall residents to participate within the shelter’s space constraint. Each session started off with a brief introduction to Gentle Paws & Friends followed by a quick tour around the shelter, naming each rescued dog and their background story.
One to two volunteers were then paired with a dog, depending on the dog’s receptiveness to first-time strangers. This was proceeded by walking of the dogs, feeding and showering them as well as cleaning their compounds. All these activities provided volunteers with a first-hand experience in taking care of a dog, playing a role in building a safe and clean environment for the dogs. The volunteers were able to interact with many different breeds of dogs, and the dogs alike were very excited to meet the residents who spared much effort caring for them.
At the end of the three sessions, the beneficiaries seem more comfortable around the volunteers and were friendly towards them. Similarly, the volunteers had also learnt more about caring after a dog, and can be said to be more understanding towards the animals around them. Being more tolerant to animals and knowing the rights and treatment they deserve sets the first steps in reducing the growing number of reported cases of animal abuse and abandonment in Singapore. The seeding of this concept in volunteers and their changed perspectives in animals marked the true success of the event.
We can’t erase their past, but we can improve their future. Student Volunteer
About NTU Hall of Residence 15
Hall of Residence 15 opened its doors for residents in 2001. With a total of 264 double rooms and 72 single rooms, the Hall has a maximum occupancy of 600 residents. Over the years, Hall 15 has made a name for itself as a vibrant hall with its colourful and dynamic cultural landscape.
NTU Hall of Residence 15 Local Community Involvement Programme (LCIP) is a committee formed in 2015 and currently in its second year. The committee’s purpose is to liaise with non-profit community organisations and plan purposeful community involvement programs to expose and encourage Hall XV’s residents to contribute and experience community work. The committee hopes by exposing the Hall’s residents to meaningful community work that they will continue to participate in community involvement programs in the future. The Team is committed to providing opportunities for residents to give back to the less fortunate and exposing them to the different ways of volunteering.