Number Of People Looking At Rehoming Dogs Almost Doubles During Lockdown
The number of people looking at the RSPCA's information about rehoming dogs has almost doubled since the start of the UK-wide lockdown last year, with more than 1,000,000 people viewing the page offering advice on how to safely rehome their pet.
The rise in demand for 'lockdown puppies' has sparked concerns for what will happen to the dogs once the pandemic is over and the realities of full-time dog ownership, as well as returning to work and school, become apparent.
A 'major animal welfare crisis' could be around the corner, as many people who bought dogs during lockdown struggle to care for them once they return to work, according to RSPCA dog welfare expert, Dr Samantha Gaines.
Further to that, many dogs that have been raised during lockdown are becoming too much for their owners to handle, and are arriving into care under-socialised after being kept inside and away from other dogs for the duration of the lockdown.
The RSPCA confirmed that visits to their Find a Pet website section saw an increase of 68 percent, with nearly 40,000,000 page views between March 23 and December 31 2020, up from 23,881,542 over the same period in the previous year.
The number of page views for the site's rehoming a dog information page shot from 540,524 to 1,013,795 over the same period.
Dr Gaines said: "There was a huge surge in demand for dogs during lockdown as families made the most of spending more time at home.
"What concerns us is what's happening to these 'lockdown puppies' now and what will happen to them over the coming months.
"We're worried that while many families will have considered the long-term commitment of taking on a dog, some may not have been thinking post-lockdown about how they'll care for their new pet when they return to work or how they'll pay for them if they should be hit by the recession.
"We expect that we'll see a major dog welfare crisis this year as huge numbers of dogs are relinquished to rescue centres, sold on online or even abandoned; with struggling charities forced to pick up the pieces."
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She continued: "We also have concerns that many dogs who have got used to having their owners at home may struggle to adapt once furloughing ends and people begin to migrate back to the office.
"We know that one of the major reasons dogs are relinquished is due to behaviour problems and research suggests that separation related anxiety may affect 85% of dogs.
"This could result in more dogs coming into rescue centres as owners return to work and they struggle to cope.
"In addition to this, many of the puppies bought during lockdown will be approaching adolescence, a period of time where big behavioural changes can occur.
"This period does typically pass but may bring additional challenges for owners if unprepared for how best to manage their dog during this time.
"Dogs are a huge responsibility and taking one on should always be a decision that is made carefully, with great consideration given to whether you can care for that pet for the rest of their life.
"Any prospective pet owners should do lots of research and ensure they can commit to that animal."
"Sadly, we know that as animals are so readily and easily available to buy online, it can be very easy for people to buy a new pet on a whim and that often means that, within a few months, they quickly realise that they cannot cope with them and seek to give them up or sell them on.
"Our advice to anyone thinking of getting a dog is to do lots of research and take time to really consider whether you can commit to a dog and the responsibility and costs associated with owning one. If you can, then please consider adopting a rescue dog instead of buying a puppy."
In case you are still considering getting a dog, the RSPCA advice states that you should be careful to do your research properly, adopt instead of buying a puppy if possible, remain vigilant and ask loads of questions of breeders and sellers, try to see the puppy's mum beforehand, and check the dog's paperwork before buying.
If something doesn't seem right, report it and walk away. You can contact Trading Standards, or report to the RSPCA on 0300 1234 999, or the police using 101.
Full information is available on the RSPCA website.
Featured Image Credit: PA
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