Photo credit: Teo Jia Wei

Joie Tan has a heart for dogs

The local singer-songwriter uses Instagram to share volunteer opportunities at dog shelters in Singapore.

Jamie Leo

Published: 8 February 2019, 12:00 AM

It was her first time at the dog shelter and she did not know what to expect.

About six months ago, local musician Lewis Loh introduced singer-songwriter Joie Tan to non-profit dog shelter, The Right To Live.

“We went together and I was like okay, this place needs to be known by more people,” said Joie, who did not know that walking dogs was a volunteering opportunity.

Joie started sharing about the shelter on her Instagram, which garnered many interested responses from her followers. Little did she know that her Instagram stories made more people interested in dog walking.

On her subsequent visit, Joie even met a girl who started dog walking after seeing her Instagram posts.

“It made me really happy. That was the moment I realised the power of social media is real, and I think it’s so important that we learn how to utilise it,” said the 23-year-old musician, who jokingly compared the chain effect to multi-level marketing (MLM).


Joie acknowledged that awareness about the importance of animal welfare is a great first step to helping animals.
Photo credit: Teo Jia Wei


Since then, Joie has started to share more information about animal shelter statistics and volunteering opportunities with her 7,000 followers on Instagram.

“People asked me if we can go together and I said of course. So, we volunteer with friends and the next time they bring their friends, it just keeps going.”

Besides helping out at adoption drives, Joie believes everyone can contribute to animal welfare in one way or another. She added there are followers who care about animals but may not have the information or capacity to financially support or adopt.

“A common misconception is that the only way you can help [animals] is to adopt, but there are so many other ways. You could donate, buy food or volunteer at animal shelters,” she explained.


Joie quipped that walking dogs can help you determine if your “Tinder date” is patient and caring.
Photo credit: Teo Jia Wei


Since Youth.SG last spoke to Joie, she has gone on to graduate from LASALLE College of the Arts and release an album in April 2018.

This time, we joined the local artiste on one of her dog walking sessions to find out more about her heart for animals – canines in particular.

“When I was a kid, I watched Animal Planet and I’ve always felt a connection with animals. I would cry when I saw monkeys getting injections,” said Joie, who has a Maltipoo called Layla.


Joie often features Layla in her Instagram posts and stories.
Photo credit: Screenshot from Instagram


After we walked several groups of dogs together, we noticed that the dogs felt comfortable around her. They willingly approached her for head rubs, eagerly wagging their tails.

“They are as intuitive as we are, if not more. The fact that they can’t express themselves makes me feel that we need to speak up for them and protect them,” she said.

Reading online posts of pets that were cruelly abandoned also left her frustrated.

“They took on the responsibility of seeing the dog through its life when they said yes to bringing the dog home. It’s not like an accessory when it doesn’t serve you anymore,” said Joie who was rather agitated.

While managing her schedule as a full-time musician, Joie volunteers whenever she can, sometimes up to three times a week. She fondly recalls every walk to be interesting because she gets to discover new quirks about the dogs at the shelter.


The Right To Live is home to about 120 rescued and abandoned dogs.
Photo credit: Teo Jia Wei


At the core of her volunteerism, she is driven by her love for the dogs.

“If I don’t walk them, some of them stay in the cage and they don’t see the light of day. Spending time with them and knowing it makes their day better enriches my life as well,” she shared.

When we were walking a family of dogs earlier, one of the dogs passed blood instead of stool. Joie was visibly worried and emotional.

After bringing them back to the shelter and alerting the workers, she was teary-eyed.

“The fact that he is spending his last days here is just heart-breaking, but I know that the people at the shelter are caring and they make sure the dogs are safe,” she said.


At the shelter, the dates that dogs are walked are tracked and written on a board.
Photo credit: Teo Jia Wei


Joie is currently waiting for the result of her artist visa and if everything works out, she will be moving to the United States in June this year.

Despite her upcoming move, she still plans to volunteer with dogs there.

“My boyfriend’s mother and his aunt are just waiting for me to move, and we’ll all sign up to volunteer at the dog shelters,” said Joie, who is planning to pursue her music abroad for the next three years.

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