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Puppies adopted during the first coronavirus lockdown are now being given up

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As predicted by the dog rescue organisations in the UK, including the RSPCA and the Dogs Trust, people who adopted pupies for the first time during the initial lockdown in the spring of 2019 (and later) are now, in quite large numbers, giving up their new pets because they are finding that they cannot combine looking after their dogs to a satisfactory standard when working away from home.

French bulldog

French bulldog. Image by Mylene2401 from Pixabay.

The sad part of this story is that it was predictable and these people’s inability to care for their dogs to the required standard was foreseeable by them as a distinct likelihood once they went back to work in their office. They no doubt adopted dogs when they were told to stay at home which opened the door to them to let a puppy into their lives. Perhaps they’d been thinking about it for quite a long time but never taken the plunge. Suddenly the opportunity arose and, if we are brutally honest, they succumbed to their indulgences and on an impulse purchase bought what would have been a quite expensive dog because at that time prices were highly inflated. It was a seller’s market. It probably still is.

Some of the adverts online for puppies being sold are quite distressing. And yes, they are often resold because they were bought at such inflated prices. If you buy, on impulse, a French bulldog puppy for £3,000 you’re not going to give that dog up to a rescue centre for free. And we know how problematic it can be to adopt companion animals online. Once again people are encouraging the wrong sort of people to adopt so it is not unforeseeable that these now abandoned dogs will be abandoned once again when the new owner decides to give them up.

We are still going through a pandemic. The so-called second wave is worse than the first in terms of transmissibility of the disease. There will be more lockdowns but I sincerely hope that there will be no more impulse buying of companion animals. Everybody knows that when you adopt a companion animal you do so for the life of the animal. It is a 10 to 15 year commitment and adoters should ask themselves if they are ready to get up at 6 am every day to give their dog a walk. And pay for pet insurance or pay out of their own pocket for veterinary bills. And be prepared to pay the entire cost of caring for a companion animal over the animal’s lifetime which can amount to about £15,000.

One person living in Buckinghamshire, UK, is selling their six-month-old collie-spaniel cross for £1,500. They write online, “Unfortunately, due to work commitments now we are no longer able to give him the loving and care he requires and deserves”. Perhaps the realised that caring for a dog takes committment, time and the burden of responsibilities.

In another example, a French bulldog bought in Birmingham, and who is six months old, is online for sale at £2,250 and the owner admits that they “don’t really have the time”. The adverts that I see are (1) admissions that the new owner is unable to cope due to work commitments and (2) the dogs for sale are young at around 4 to 6-months-of-age. This indicates that they were bought as young puppies because they are cute. This in turn indicates a slightly flippant and self-indulgent approach to adopting a sentient being for the life of that animal.

I don’t want to harp on and bore people but I get angry when I read these adverts. It was all so predictable. Battersea Dogs & Cats Home also predicted that this would happen. We now see dozens of adverts posted online on websites such as Pets4Homes and preloved by people who bought a puppy during the pandemic. Incidentally, the Pets4Home website keeps crashing because it is overwhelmed with visits. People are still adopting in large numbers. More trouble ahead I expect.

If it is not a shortage of time which prevents them looking after a puppy it is a failure to have sufficient funds. Caring for a dog or a cat is quite expensive at the end of the day and you have to budget for that before adopting. The RSPCA said that it was really concerned that so many dogs are already being resold. Let’s restate the obvious that the coronavirus pandemic is going to cause financial hardship and therefore unless you have job security you shouldn’t adopt a dog or a cat at this time. Wait until you know what the future holds in terms of your work and ask some really tough questions before you proceed.


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