Nearly 12 million dogs have been added to UK households since the pandemic started. Unfortunately, as life slowly returns to normal, over 100 animals a day have been abandoned since 2021.
According to a forecast, approximately 25,000 preloved dogs will be given up by their owners over the next 5 years.
The Unprecedented Rise of Canine Companionship
The need for companionship during the pandemic led to a significant increase in acquiring dogs. In 2020, there was a sharp rise in Google searches for “buying a puppy.”
More than 2 in 5 individuals obtained a pandemic puppy in the same year. Roughly 3.2 million households in the UK brought in a new pet ever since the beginning of COVID-19 lockdowns, with dogs comprising 12 million of the pet population.
A survey shows that 74% of the people felt that their pets have greatly helped with their mental health during the pandemic. In a different survey, 2/3 of dog owners claimed that their furry friends were a “lifeline in lockdown.”
Unfortunately, findings have also revealed that countless individuals impulsively welcomed their canine companions into their homes with little to no research.
Due to the sudden increase in capricious dog ownership, animal organisations are worried about its impact on pandemic dogs in the future.
The Ever-Growing Numbers of Preloved Dogs
As 2021 began, their concerns were proven right. RSPCA’s Cancel Out Cruelty campaign received more than 38,087 pet abandonment reports during this year.
They average over 3,000 reports a month and record 104 abandoned animals a day and 4 every hour.
Dog Trust, a canine welfare charity, shared that they have had a 39% increase in phone calls involving surrendering preloved dogs since July 2021.
Moreover, the traffic to the “giving up your dog” pages of the organisation’s website has increased to 100% in comparison to February 2021. This is 180% higher than in February 2020, before the pandemic lockdown in the UK.
Another dog rescue charity called Hope Rescue is facing the same dilemma as other organisations. People turning over their preloved dogs is continuously increasing.
The rescue centre has taken in 150 abandoned canines in 2021 alone. It increased to 300 during January 2022.
In Hope Rescue’s 16-year history, this was the first time it has had such large numbers of pooches. The charity expects this issue to go on for the next 2 years.
According to RSPCA, the number of abandoned animals has nationally spiked up to 17% from 2020 to 2021. Sadly, the figures have rapidly increased to 24% in 2022.
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Economic Crisis Is the Biggest Contributing Factor
The inflation in the UK, which started in early 2021, has gradually worsened as 2022 came along. With the prices of food and energy bills skyrocketing, numerous dog owners are now facing dire financial issues.
Thus, they struggle to maintain proper care of their canine companions because of the need to cut costs. A survey conducted by Dog Trust shows that:
- 43% of dog owners have observed an increase in the cost of vet care
- 10% put off vet treatment for non-routine procedures due to high prices
- 33% had to borrow money to pay a vet bill of £100
- 13% are in debt trying to look after their dogs
Some dog owners cannot keep up with the steady rising in living costs as well as dog care expenses. As a result, they have no choice but to seriously consider giving up or abandoning their preloved dogs.
Other Slew of Contributing Problems
Inflation is not the only reason why preloved dogs are increasing in number. Several other factors also come into play that led them to end up in rescue centres or animals shelters such as:
Unknown Lineage Backgrounds
As we have mentioned before, many dog owners failed to spend enough time doing their research. It made them easy targets for scammers and illegal breeders who want to take advantage of such a lucrative market.
Unscrupulous breeders do not bother to talk about their dogs’ lineage and health conditions. The concealment of this information gradually birthed many problems down the line.
Eventually, new dog owners realised they were given sickly puppies with unstable temperaments. These pooches were bred in poor living conditions and usually taken away from their mother at a very young age.
Catering to their medical care, training, and health insurance is expensive. Many dog owners were unprepared for this unexpectedly heavy financial responsibility.
Lack of Social Interaction
Pandemic dogs experienced limited training and interactions with humans and other pets due to lockdown restrictions. Their lack of proper socialisation can greatly hinder them from adjusting properly to the real world.
They are at high risk of developing behavioural problems such as separation anxiety. It takes a lot of effort and time commitment to ensure that this issue does not happen.
Unfortunately, some dog owners cannot live up to these obligations because their jobs take up most of their time.
Moreover, now that restrictions have been lifted, many of them are required to work in the office.
It should be noted that only 15% of UK employees have a pet-friendly work environment. Thus, it prevents dog owners from spending enough time with their canine companions.
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The Last Resort of Desperate Dog Owners
A lot of stories have surfaced about people selling their preloved dogs online to recover some financial stability. When this method did not work, they resorted to lying to dog charities.
These dog owners pretend that their dogs are strays or abandoned dogs that they randomly found on the street. Later on, the truth would come out after the organisation was informed about the online pet advertisements.
Some dog owners simply ditch their preloved dogs on the side of the road. These poor pooches arrive at rescue centres in a bad shape due to long periods of neglect.
Other dog owners pleaded with dog charities to take in their preloved dogs. Letting go of their canine companions was a hard decision to make. However, because of genuine reasons, they are left with no other choice.
Rescue Centres Are Stretched Thin
Abandonment of preloved dogs during the pandemic has reached crisis levels. Various animal shelters and rescue centres in the UK are full of them. There is also a lack of volunteer staff, which did not help with the workload.
Overcapacity is a very prevalent problem and transferring pooches to other rescue centres became unfeasible.
Some dog charities even received calls from vets inquiring if they have available space for preloved dogs. Otherwise, these canines are in danger of being put to sleep.
A decrease in preloved dog adopters is a growing concern too. People are reluctant to go through with the adoption process because of soaring living costs.
The lack of critical information about the health, bloodline, and temperament of preloved dogs adds to the problem. It lengthens the process of finding the most appropriate forever home for them.
Donations are getting scarce as well since inflation calls for limited spending. It brings bigger worries as housing large numbers of preloved dogs increases utility costs.
Lack of funding could lead to the shutting down of the facility, which is disastrous to the future of many abandoned dogs.
Reconsider Before Letting Go
It is never easy to part ways with a beloved pooch. If you are in dire straits, think before deciding to hand over your preloved dog.
Unfortunately, our canine companions always get the shorter end of the stick in these types of circumstances. So try to work things out before throwing in the towel.
Reach out to pet food banks if dog food expenses are too heavy on your budget. In cases of vet bills, ask around for free or low-cost veterinary services in your area to reduce expenses.
There are also certain dog organisations such as the PDSA and Blue Cross that offer financial aid.
If you have exhausted all the options, look for available rehoming or rescue centres in your area. If they are full, it would be best to wait and try again after some time.
Never leave your preloved dog out on the streets to fend for himself. He deserves to find a loving forever home and have a second shot in life.