Lockdown puppies are being increasingly abandoned by their owners, the RSPCA has warned, as its centres begin to be flooded with cats and dogs.
There was a huge surge in demand for puppies over lockdown as people on furlough and working from home wanted companionship. For some, it was the perfect opportunity to train a young dog.
However, as people return to work they have found they no longer have time for their pooch, and have been abandoning their pets at animal welfare charities.
Many local centres have noticed an uptick in abandoned pets. Oaktree Animals' Charity, near Carlisle, has taken in a 120 dogs and cats over the last three months.
The charity revealed 45,181 dog incidents have been dealt with this year (up to 29 September).
Dogs Trust estimates we could see up to 40,000 more stray or abandoned dogs in need of help, especially if – as economists indicate - we see a financial crisis on par or worse than the crash of 2008, which saw a 25.6% increase in stray and abandoned dogs the year after. H
This raises concerns among RSPCA experts that an impending dog welfare crisis could be on the horizon in 2021 as families return to normal life and may no longer be able to take care of the puppy they bought during lockdown.
Coupled with a fear that the end of furlough and the deepening recession will hit families hard and some may no longer be able to afford their pets, this could put pressure on the already-stretched resources of rescue centres.
RSPCA chief executive Chris Sherwood said: “We are all used to being able to buy whatever we want when we want it but we’re urging people to thoroughly do their research before committing to getting any dog and to make sure they don’t get caught out by people acting illegally or irresponsibly. We have lots of dogs waiting for their forever homes so please do consider getting a rescue dog.
RSPCA dog welfare expert Dr Samantha Gaines said: “We’re worried that as people return to their normal lives post-lockdown and people are hit by recession we could see more dogs coming into our care or being abandoned. The message here is simple: do lots of research to help find the right pet for your family and don’t impulse buy.
“Dogs can be sensitive to changes to their routine and we’d urge anyone who is concerned about their pets’ behaviour to speak to their vet or to a clinical animal behaviourist for help.”