Three years ago, our world was changed forever by the outbreak of Covid-19. While the cost in lives lost and damage done is discussed frequently, the impact on our animals has also been severe and has continued consequences today.
For many people, lockdown was considered the perfect time to welcome a new puppy. While most of these ‘pandemic puppy’ owners started with good intentions, many people bought puppies without conducting home visits, which is so vital when choosing a puppy. Restrictions on meetings meant few training classes were available, and opportunities for socialisation were minimal. The consequence is an overwhelming number of poorly socialised and poorly trained young dogs.
Rescue Centres at Breaking Point
While some people have tried to help their pandemic puppies deal with this transition, many have abandoned their now unwanted dog to a rescue centre as they realise the commitment involved no longer suits their return to a busy lifestyle. Rescue centres are inundated with young dogs, many of whom have behavioural problems due to lack of socialisation or untreated medical conditions. These challenging young dogs are difficult to rehome and are spending longer in centres, reducing the number of other dogs that can be taken in.
Every surge in popularity brings out those cruel enough to make money by exploiting it, and pandemic puppies were no different. The unprecedented demand has led to a rise in unregulated breeders preying on the inexperience of new owners. These breeders charge extortionate amounts of money for puppies, particularly those of popular or ‘designer’ breeds while failing to carry out appropriate health and welfare checks. Many people have ended up with a puppy from a puppy farm and all the heartache and expensive vet bills this entails.
Livestock Attacks Rising
One of the few joys over lockdown was discovering the local countryside with our dogs. However, a recent study by NFU Mutual has shown a worrying increase in the number of attacks on livestock since the pandemic. With over 50% of people admitting that their dog has chased livestock, the cost to farmers and the suffering caused to the animals is substantial. Any dog, even the friendliest pet, is capable of chasing and killing another animal. Owners are being urged to keep their dogs on a lead when walking near livestock and report any incidents to the police.
How Can You Help Your Pet?
Please contact a local vet, dog trainer or behaviourist – these professionals are not there to judge you but to help you both move forward together. If your circumstances mean you must find your dog a new home, please take them to a rescue centre rather than advertising them online where those with malicious intent can find them. Consider a donation or even volunteering at your local rescue centre to help them cope. All animals deserve a safe and loving home, and those who have taken them on have a responsibility to provide this, even if their circumstances have changed.
Post by OneKind volunteer Ami Patrick.