RSPCA fears Covid will trigger a 'dog welfare crisis'

RSPCA fears Covid will trigger a ‘dog welfare crisis’ after massive 650% spike in people searching for puppies online during lockdown

  •  Figures show  15,000 searches for ‘Puppies near me’ in July 2020
  • The numbers ofl imports of dogs have also increased  from 5,964 to 12,733
  •  RSPCA urges people who are looking for a dog  to  ‘Adopt Don’t Shop’

The number of people searching online for puppies during lockdown will lead to a ‘dog welfare crisis’, the RSPCA fears. 

The fact that  the number of people looking for puppies online soared by 650% and imports of dogs have doubled, shows an alarming rise in demand. 

RSPCA is urging  anyone thinking of taking on a dog to ‘Adopt Don’t Shop’ as new figures reveal that, during lockdown, Google searches for ‘Puppies near me’ increased more than six times (650%) with 15,000 searches in July 2020 compared to 2,000 in January 2020.  

 RSPCA fears Covid will trigger a welfare crisis in 2021  as families will be going back to normal

And Government figures show the numbers of licences issued for the commercial import of dogs more than doubled from 5,964 to 12,733.

RSPCA warns that a dog welfare crisis is possible in 2021 as families return to normal life and may no longer be able to take care of the puppy they bought during lockdown. 

In addittion the end of furlough could hit families hard and  might mean some may no longer be able to afford their pets. 

RSPCA chief executive Chris Sherwood said: ‘We have seen a rise in people searching for dogs to adopt during lockdown, which is fantastic, but at the same time, there appears to be a rise in people looking to buy puppies. 

‘We know that there are not enough puppies bred in the UK to meet the demands of those who want to buy them and, worryingly, there appears to be a surge in puppies coming in from outside the UK. 

According to RSPCA searches for ‘Puppies near me’ increased by 650% during lockdown

‘The problem with this is that, although breeders from countries like Romania are licensed, we have no way of checking the conditions those animals are being kept in and we fear that sales like these could be fuelling cruel puppy farms as well as exposing puppies to long and stressful journeys. 

 ‘We’re 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. 

‘Although it is really tempting to buy a puppy, those from abroad may have been bred in poor conditions, leaving them with potentially serious medical and behavioural problems whereas adopting from somewhere like the RSPCA where staff have really got to know the dog, means you get the advice and support you need.

‘If families would still prefer to buy a dog, we’re encouraging them to use The Puppy Contract. This is a free online tool that will help find responsible breeders and a happy, healthy dog.’   

Licences issued for the commercial import of dogs more than doubled from 5,964 to 12,733

Dog welfare expert Dr Samantha Gaines said: ‘It’s wonderful to see that so many people want to welcome dogs into their families and we’ve loved waving so many of our own dogs off into their forever homes. 

‘However, we are concerned that some families may not be considering the long-term commitment of taking on a dog and how they’ll care for their new pet post-lockdown.

‘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.

‘We’re also worried that more families will hand their dogs into rescue due to behaviour problems that have emerged due to changes in routines and set-ups caused by lockdown. 

‘During the past few months we’ve seen more visits to our website from people seeking advice on their dog’s behaviour with a 105% increase in visits to our understanding dogs behaviour pages, compared to last year, and a 27% increase in visits to our find a behaviourist pages.

‘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.’

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