Dog charities and rescue organisations across Britain are seeing a huge increase in enquiries into adopting a dog during lockdown.
Small Dog Rescue Scotland says since its inception in 2018 nearly half of its enquiries have come during the lockdown period.
Local dog charity DAWGs, based in Afford, has seen a rise in enquiries into whether they have any dogs available looking to be rehomed.
Down South demand is more acute with one of the leading rescue charities – Paws2Rescue – saying they have seen a “six hundred per cent rise” in enquiries into dog adoption during lockdown.
Market forces for a companion drive up demand
“We hear breeders charging between £2500 and £4500 a pup and this is driving people to rescues.”
Alan Milne, a trustee at DAWGs, thinks some of the reasons driving the sudden demand for dogs includes people wanting companionship and an excuse to get out the house.
Based in Afford, DAWGs helps rehome canine friends that for one reason or another are no longer able to be taken care of.
Mr Milne said of the rise in adoptions: “There has been an up-surge in interest. I think people have been looking for companionship and something else to think about during lockdown.”
Alison Standbridge, who runs Paws2Rescue, which rehomes dogs across the country, says her adoption team has been swamped with enquiries during lockdown.
Ms Standbridge said: “We’re getting a minimum of hundred enquiries a day – it can go up to four hundred enquiries.”
Ms Standbridge believes people are turning to rescues because they can’t afford puppies.
Ms Standbridge explained: “We hear breeders charging between £2500 and £4500 a pup and this is driving people to rescues.”
Emma Aubrey who runs the Scottish branch of rescue organisation Small Dog Rescue, which operates via Facebook, said since she started the majority of enquiries have come during lockdown.
Ms Aubrey explained: “Since December 2018 in Scotland we have had about 307 dogs that have come. During the five months of lockdown, there has been about 130 to 140. There’s been a huge amount of dogs that have come in the time coronavirus has been happening.”
Research conducted by national charity Dogs Trust has shown that Google searches containing the phrase ‘buy a puppy’ have increased 166% since lockdown was announced on 23rd of March.
Concern in the sudden rush to get a dog?
Everyone knows the adage, a dog’s not for Christmas it’s for life.
Alison Standbridge, who has spoken at EU animal welfare events in Brussels, is sceptical about the sudden rise in demand for puppies saying it could make the situation of dog abandonment and rescue worse.
Ms Standbridge said: “It is bizarre how all of a sudden everyone thinks it’s the right time for them to have a dog because to be honest it’s not the right time. When people go back to work and go back to a normal life I’m sure that many of these dogs will be abandoned again.”
Small Dog Rescue Scotland head Emma Aubrey believes as long as a dog is going to a happy home it doesn’t matter whose adopting or when they choose to adopt.
Ms Aubrey said: “As long as people are going to give them a loving home I don’t mind.
“I don’t have a problem with rehoming to people who work full time or live in flats. I think to say people who work full time can’t give dogs a good life is pretty ridiculous.”
40,000 dogs could be abandoned in the UK because of covid
Dogs Trust estimates up to 40,000 dogs could be abandoned due to the financial and social pressures caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
In 2009, a year after the financial crash, euthanasia rates increased by 25 per cent as kennels became full to capacity with abandoned dogs. Dogs Trust believes this could repeat itself in the aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic.
Owen Sharp, Chief Executive of Dogs Trust, said in a statement in July: “The sad reality is that in times of financial hardship many people struggle to cope with looking after their pets, and the number of abandoned dogs has gone up.
“We’ve already taken a number of dogs in from owners who have sadly passed away from, or been hospitalised with COVID-19. We would urge anyone needing to give up their dog to please turn to us first, and we’ll do everything we possibly can to help you and your dog.”