Dogs and people exploited during coronavirus pandemic

There are reports of a surge in interest in adopting dogs to keep people occupied and entertained during the coronavirus lockdown in the UK. The problem is this: because of social distancing regulations people are buying purebred dogs online without doing due diligence in respect of the companion animal’s pedigree or origin. The dog is then shipped direct the buyer. It is like buying clothes or cameras online. Highly convenient but disasterously dangerous for people and pets.

French bulldog. Picture in public domain.

Firstly, if the animal exist, they are being sold at inflated prices because of the demand. This is a seller’s market. French bulldogs are being sold for up to £4,000 each on the website Pets4Homes when a buyer would normally pay less than £2,500. French bulldogs are the country’s favourite because they are small and interesting looking. First timers fall for them.

Secondly, it is essential to visit the dog seller’s facility or home and ask questions about health, pedigree, socialisation etc.. Miss these out and you can’t be sure the dog is not smuggled from mainland Europe where they are bred in disreputable puppy farms. These puppies are often ill and the veterinary costs to treat them are high.

Prices have shot up. There’s a huge demand for puppies – for all dogs really. With many rescues unable to rehome, there’s a huge gap that’s being filled by breeders….[they] are more likely to be irresponsibly bred.

Marc Abraham veterinary surgeon

It’s harder right now to be sure they’re not smuggled. If dogs are delivered you run the risk of getting a dog from a dubious source.

Owen Sharp, chief executive Dogs Trust.

Thirdly, sometimes the buyers are blantantly scammed. They buy online in a mad panic without due diligence. They go to pick up the dog from a designated address and no one comes to the door. No dogs. Pure scam. Or the addresses might be genuine but nothing to do with dog breeding. One home owner had seven customers turn up to collect a puppy. She had no idea what was going on.

Dogs Trust has seen an increase in applications for adoption increase by 746% since last year. There is clearly a big demand brought on by the pandemic but the future looks grim to me and the dogs will suffer.

I suspect that people who have been casually thinking about adopting a dog or cat are jumping in now but without due care and attention to details such as health and overall costs. These pets are likely to be relinquished to shelters once they reopen. Many shelters such Battersea Dogs and Cats have been able to rehome only a small number of dogs because they suspended the intake of new animals for the first time in 160 years. I fear for a bad outcome. It is the animals who’ll suffer if I am correct.

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