More dog owners thinking about giving up pet, charity says

The number of people considering giving up their pet dog for adoption has surged since coronavirus restrictions were lifted, a canine welfare charity has said.

The Dogs Trust said it had experienced a 35% increase in phone calls about people handing over dogs since 12 July, when it was confirmed that “freedom day” would be happening the following week.

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There has also been a 55% increase in emails to the charity on the subject since 12 July, while there has been a 182% increase in traffic to the “giving up your dog” pages on its website, compared with pre-pandemic levels.

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Owen Sharp, the chief executive of the Dogs Trust, said: “Following the boom in pet ownership during the pandemic, which saw millions of us delighting in the companionship of a dog, today’s figures have sadly come as no surprise to us.

“As owners’ circumstances change, puppies grow into boisterous ‘teenagers’ and the country unlocks, many owners are being forced to reconsider the place in their lives for their pet.”

The charity said it was braced for an increase in dogs being handed over to it in the months to come. Since the first lockdown last year animal behaviourists and charities have been urging potential owners to consider the longer-term consequences and how their lives may need to change to accommodate a pet dog as restrictions are lifted.

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Nevertheless, there was such a boom in demand for “pandemic puppies” that supermarkets reported shortages of pet food . It also led to skyrocketing prices , which in turn triggered an increase in unethical hidden-economy breeding and soaring dog thefts .

A survey of 5,517 new puppy owners by researchers at the Royal Veterinary College, published last month , found that some were less likely to have sought out credible breeders, such as Kennel Club-assured breeders, less likely to have viewed their puppy in-person before purchase and collection, and more likely to have paid in excess of £2,000 for their new pet.

Pandemic puppy owners were also more likely to have bought a younger puppy, to have seen it without their littermates and to have collected it from outside a breeder’s property or have it delivered.

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The study also found that pandemic puppy owners were more likely to have no previous experience of owning a dog.

The Dog’s Trust said there are 12.5m pet dogs in the UK. There was a 100% increase in traffic to the “giving up your dog pages” on its website in July, compared with six months ago, and a 115% rise compared with the same period last year.Sharp said: “As the ‘new normal’ settles in, it is vital that we understand exactly what support we can offer to keep our pets in their loving homes.”