One of the unintended consequences of the pandemic, and the yo-yo that is Lockdown, has been the amount of time we are spending with our pets. We are finding great solace in the company of our beloved dogs, so it's no surprise that new dog ownership has shot up.
Worryingly, the spike in the demand for dogs has also led to alarming reports of increased dog theft happening across the UK. We all need to be very vigilant about the safety of our beloved dogs, not only when we are out and about with them in public spaces, but also in our own homes. Shockingly, around six dogs per day are reported stolen!
Alyson Jones of Blue Cross recently told the Daily Mail that applications for dogs on their website have grown by 515% since Lockdown! But, while there have been pleasing numbers of dogs rehomed, it’s been very sad to see how many people have been forced to give up their dogs, in some cases because they feel they can no longer afford them. Even more tragic is the shameful number of dogs that have been dumped and abandoned.
Getting a new dog, under any circumstances, is a huge commitment. Dogs need a lot of love, a lot of attention, a lot of training, the best food you can afford, and, most importantly, proper veterinary care. So if your heart is set on a loving, faithful companion who asks for almost nothing, and gives you everything in return; you need to know that getting a dog is not a simple matter at all.
Many dog lovers would rather start afresh with a “new” pup, rather than take on a rescue dog. Online searches to “buy a puppy” are reported to have surged by 166%. The price of puppies has also surged with prices inflated by between 50 and 90% since Lockdown. Prices for some breeds have soared as high as 134% and the dynamics of supply and demand have changed drastically since the pandemic.
The biggest problem with buying a “new” dog is the risk of falling prey to the heartless scoundrels smuggling puppies, who are hoping to trick you into an illegal sale. Dogs Trust’s Veterinary Director, Paula Boyden says: "Sadly, we continue to see more and more heart-breaking examples of puppies being illegally imported into the country. Puppy smugglers are making vast profits by exploiting innocent puppies, breeding and transporting them in appalling conditions to sell on to unsuspecting dog lovers.
"Unfortunately, it is all too easy to be hoodwinked by these deceitful traders. That is why it is so important to do your research before buying a dog so you can do everything you can to buy your puppy responsibly."
So how do we protect ourselves and help end the horrific practice of puppy smuggling? Our friends at the Dogs Trust launched “Don't Be Dogfished” a campaign that aims to help new owners avoid potentially being hundreds of pounds out of pocket as a result of caring for a poorly puppy or, worse still, experiencing the puppy dying.
Here are the steps Dogs Trust recommends to avoid being misled when buying a puppy:
- Always see puppy and mum together at their home and make sure to visit more than once.
- Ask lots of questions and make sure you see all vital paperwork, such as a puppy contract - which gives lots of information about their parents, breed, health, diet, the puppy's experiences and more.
- If you have any doubts or feel pressured to buy, as hard as it may be, walk away.
- Never pay a deposit upfront; and never without seeing the puppy in person, preferably more than once.
- Don’t buy a pup that looks too young or underweight.
So, again: if you’re not absolutely sure you are ready to fulfil the commitments of responsible dog ownership, then walk away. But if you do commit, your life will never be the same again – joyfully so.