One of the consequences of the Covid-19 restrictions last year was an increase in the number of dog owners. As more people worked from home, so more saw the benefits of having a canine companion with them. This year, animal welfare charities are reporting a worrying rise in the numbers of ‘pandemic puppies’ advertised for sale or given up for adoption as owners realise they cannot afford the time or money to look after them.
The BBC reports that searches for ‘buy a puppy’ quadrupled during the UK’s first lockdown in March. By November there were spikes in search terms related to selling puppies and dogs online.
According to a survey by pet wellness company Itch, 40 percent of new dog owners have experienced regrets about their purchase, with one in five not realising the work involved in raising and caring for a puppy.
In the last three months, more than 1800 people have called Dogs Trust asking to hand over puppies aged less than one. The Dogs Trust currently reports that it has around 1200 dogs in its centres for rehoming: many puppies bought during the pandemic. The RSPCA also says that it is ‘bracing itself’ for more animals to be abandoned over the next few months.
Caught in the rush to buy a puppy, many owners failed to consider the lifetime commitment needed for a dog. According to the PDSA, a large dog breed can cost between £13,000 and £30,000 to own across its lifetime. The Dogs Trust highlights that any owner looking to take on a dog needs to devote time and money for up to fifteen years.
Looking after your pet’s health
Even last summer, a Kennel Club survey found that one in five owners who bought a puppy in last year’s lockdown had not fully considered the long-term responsibility of having a dog. 15 percent of owners expressed concern over whether they could afford their pet. One in three owners had no pet insurance.
Pet insurance, or having some provision for paying medical bills, is a vital part of safeguarding your pet’s health even from a young age. The Dogs Trust mentions the story of Bruce, a puppy whose owners gave him up when they discovered he had a heart condition that required surgery and were not able to pay for these costs. Sadly, Bruce is not alone.
Although not every pet owner will choose to insure their pet, it is worth researching the costs of pet insurance before you buy a puppy. It is easy to get an idea of the costs of insurance online; and this can noticeably vary between specific breeds, ages and medical needs. Better to factor in the costs in advance and be able to rely on cover for any vet bills than have to make the difficult decision to let a puppy down.