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Animal experts have warned there could be a 'major dog welfare crisis' after the number of puppies being sold online shot through the roof over the past year.
Pets4Homes, which is one the largest marketplaces for animals in the country, claimed there has been a 51 percent rise in the demand for pups, with 466,601 dogs having been advertised on the site since the Covid pandemic began - an increase of 131 percent.
According to figures released by the RSPCA, the charity has responded to 5,955 reports of abandoned dogs since the pandemic started.
Speaking to Sky News, Rory Cowlam, a vet and ambassador for the RSPCA, said it's a worrying trend.
He told the site: "Abandonments are going to happen because people have got puppies on a whim.
"They've been putting off getting a dog for years and years, they're suddenly furloughed or they're at home more and more and they think now's the right time to get a dog."
These comments were echoed by Mr Cowlam's colleague Dr Samantha Gaines, a dog welfare specialist at the charity.
She urged people to think twice before buying a puppy.
She told Sky News: "We've probably yet to see the worst to come. We're now into the third lockdown in England and people still are at home with their puppies that they bought last year, some people will be thinking about getting puppies now.
"If there is anyone at this moment in time that is thinking about getting a dog or a puppy because they're at home, we'd urge people to be very very careful and to make sure they do their research."
Adding: "We expect that we'll see a major dog welfare crisis this year."
Ira Moss, co-founder of All Dogs Matter, also told Sky News that 'unscrupulous' sellers are making thousands of pounds.
Criticising the lack of regulations surrounding it, she said: "They're being multi-sold, so one dog can turnover, can transact £5,000 to £10,000 if it's sold three times. It's become such a commodity, a dog.
"At some point there's got to be a saturation point - this can't carry on forever, it's just not practical."
Adding: "It's just so sad - we're a nation of dog lovers and we've created this monster."
Last year, a blind puppy found a new home in time for his first Christmas after being abandoned alone in Hyde Park.
When he arrived at Battersea's rehoming centre, expert veterinary staff realised the three-month-old Rottweiler was completely blind - which may be why he had been abandoned in the park.
Thankfully despite having a rough start in his short life, he has now found himself a happy home in south-east London with new owner Suzanne and will now spend his first Christmas surrounded by a loving family.
Featured Image Credit: RSPCA/Rory Cowlam
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