Dog marketplace in the UK is in turmoil

COMMENT: By the “dog marketplace” I am referring to dog owners, dog sellers, doll adopters and the dog rescue world. The current virus pandemic lockdowns have distorted the dog marketplace, which has resulted in a lowering of animal welfare which is often how things pan out under these sorts of circumstances.

Battersea Dogs & Cats Home
Battersea Dogs & Cats Home. Photo: Battersea Dogs Home.


Some people who have never lived with a dog before decided to adopt one during the lockdown because it was a good time to get to know your dog and you can be with your dog all day every day. But these are inexperienced dog owners who often have not carried out due diligence in educating themselves about dog ownership. This leaves them exposed to scammers and Eastern European dog importers who circumvent the Pet Passport rules.

Because dog owners are unprepared they don’t know how to create the environment within which a dog is contented. This can lead to aggressive dogs or dogs suffering from fear-aggression and separation anxiety. A dog can become unmanageable leading to the inexperienced owner giving up their new dog. However, they might have bought their dog at very high price due to distortions in the marketplace which has pushed up prices.

Selling online

These people don’t want to relinquish their dogs to a dog rescue centre because it would mean the loss of thousands of pounds. They therefore sell them online. These dogs are pushed from pillar to post which makes them even more unmanageable. That’s one example of turmoil in the UK dog marketplace.

One animal rescuer, Margaret Green Animal Rescue, based in Blandford, Dorset and Tavistock in Devon said that they only have four dogs to be rehomed compared to the normal twenty-five at this time of year. She believes that people are selling them online. They can make easy money in doing that. When the price goes up like this it does distort the market. Another reason for selling their dogs rather than giving them up at rescue centres is because it’s embarrassing to do it if you’ve owned a dog for a very short period of time. This is what can lead to people abandoning dogs outside rescue centres during the night.

Dogs passed around

When dogs are passed around they become scared and confused which can lead to them biting. A trainer and behaviourist, Sean Knowlson said that he was trying to sort out a beagle who had lived in four homes in the past nine months. Another dog that he is helping had been stuck in the owner’s home for three weeks because of the lockdown and was suffering from stress and had become destructive. The dog had lost his previous owner and then found himself in a home where he was confined.

Budgeting and dog personality changes

Another problem is that some inexperienced dog owners have not properly budgeted the cost of looking after a dog. This can lead to abandonments as well. And they might adopt a puppy but when they grow up their personality changes. They don’t like it so they want to give up their dog and put an advert online on a website such as Gumtree.

Vetting at dog rescues

If you adopt a dog from a rescue centre they ask questions to check whether you are suitable for the task of dog ownership. Sometimes these people are turned down so they go to irresponsible dog importers. This places what might be an unhealthy dog with, perhaps, behavioural problems with an experienced dog owner who has not carried out research on how to look after a dog properly. This leads to problems.

Furlough will dry up

The government has paid furlough moneys to millions of people in the UK at a cost of over £200 billion. An astonishing amount of money. But it has buffered financial problems at home. When furlough stops these financial problems will surface and dog rescue centres are concerned that at that time there will be a crisis of abandonments to rescue centres.

High demand for rescue dogs some unsuited

Battersea Dogs & Cats Home is seeing a high demand for their cats and dogs. This competition for their dogs can also drive people to adopt rescue dogs imported from Eastern Europe. These dogs can be ex-street dogs and they will end up being fearful and perhaps aggressive. Either that or they will become fearful and hide.

High prices

In general the marketplace pressures will also tend to encourage puppy mills to churn out more puppies in unsanitary and unhealthy conditions. Because French bulldogs can sell for up to £5,000 people start seeing dollar signs and become breeders believing that they can get £35,000 for a litter of French bulldogs.

A spokesperson for the Kennel Club said that they are aware of a small number of dogs being relinquished because they were bought in haste without, as mentioned, understanding the demands of dog ownership.

These are example of some of the distortions and pressures on the dog marketplace at the moment because of the pandemic. It’s not over because problems will get worse when this torrent of money from the UK government dries up.

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