Puppy pandemic as demand for pets whistles up during lockdown

Ali Bruce
June 6 2020, 13.00

Interest in buying a pet has risen by a dramatic 745.7% since lockdown began, as people seek reprieve from pandemic-related difficulties.

The Dogs Trust, a national animal welfare charity, observed a vast increase in enquiries for the rehoming of dogs from April 17 to May 20 this year compared to 2019.

For that period there was a rise in email enquiries from 690 to 5,836, as people pondered the prospect of a pandemic pooch.

Robin Humphries, a Labrador breeder for the Kennel Club, a national body governing canine activities, from Tunbridge Wells, Kent, said: “There has been a ridiculous increase.

“If we haven’t got a litter advertised we usually get one enquiry a week, but now we’re getting up to ten a day.”

The Kennel Club website has seen a 141% rise in searches for puppies since lockdown began against the same period last year.

Emily Nicholas, 24, an insurance client provider from Wandsworth, and her family bought Isla, a now 13- week-old black Labrador, during the lockdown.

Miss Nicholas said they had not considered getting a puppy so soon.

However, when the lockdown began the Nicholas children convinced their parents, Giles, 70, and Sarah, 55, it was the perfect time to buy a puppy.

The parents agreed and bought Isla when she was 9 weeks old.

Miss Nicholas said: “My mum is quite vulnerable, so we have all been pent up in the house, barely even going outside to take exercise.

“When we bought Isla, it completely lifted the energy in the house.”

Credit: Emily Nicholas

Caroline Logsdail, 60, an integrative child psychotherapist at therapeutic support institution The Recovery Centre, noted that coronavirus and the lockdown have led to a vast increase in anxiety and depression.

Mrs Logsdail, who often sees clients with her dog Rothko, 10, a Basset Fauve de Bretagne, understands how pets can improve our mood.

Mrs Logsdail said: “At a time when we may not have physical contact with many people, and when we are particularly anxious, unsure or life seems unstable, a pet can make a huge difference and can really increase our dopamine levels.”

However, the rise in enquiries and purchases is collared with concern.

She warned that dogs are not just a quick fix and the welfare of the animals must be secure. Mr Humphries said they were taking extra steps to ensure dogs are not sold to the wrong homes.

He said: “If we get the slightest idea that the only reason they want a dog is because they’re bored at home, we don’t put them on the list.”

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