West Yorkshire’s RSPCA concerned about influx of abandoned dogs after lockdown

DEMAND for dogs surged in lockdown and people across the UK were eager to spend their newfound free time training and caring for a new dog.

While this is great news for responsible and knowledgeable dog owners, shelters and animal charities are bracing themselves for a surge of ‘lockdown dogs’ after restrictions end.

These are dogs that can no longer be cared for now that people are returning to work, or even people who have lost their jobs in the pandemic and can no longer afford a dog.

Between March and the end of December last year, the RSPCA’s Find a Pet section of the website had 39,835,657 views compared to 23,681,542 in the same period the previous year- this is a rise of 68%.

The number of page views on the RSPCA’s ‘rehoming a dog’ section surged 87 per cent from 540,524 to 1,013,795 over the same period. 

RSPCA dog welfare expert Dr Samantha Gaines said: “There was a huge surge in demand for dogs during lockdown as families made the most of spending more time at home. What concerns us is what’s happening to these ‘lockdown puppies’ now and what will happen to them over the coming months. 

“We expect that we’ll see a major dog welfare crisis this year as huge numbers of dogs are relinquished to rescue centres, sold on online or even abandoned; with struggling charities forced to pick up the pieces.”

Lockdown puppies in Bradford

Claire Kendall, Animal Centre Manager as the RSPCA Halifax, Huddersfield and Bradford district branch said the branch has noticed an increase in dog rehoming searches in the last year.

While they are yet to see and influx of ‘lockdown puppies’- they predict this being a problem in the coming months.

Claire said: “We haven’t seen an influx of ‘lockdown dogs’ in our care yet- but in recent weeks we have started to get more and more phone calls from people who got a puppy in lockdown and can no longer cope with it.

“I’m pretty sure an influx of dogs purchased in lockdown is going to happen- it’s just a matter of when and how bad it will be.”

Seven-month-old Missy is the branch’s first ‘lockdown puppy’ and she came to the shelter a few weeks ago.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Missy is the branch's first 'lockdown puppy'Missy is the branch's first 'lockdown puppy'

Claire explained: “A gentleman bought her as a puppy in lockdown- but she has gotten bigger and too strong for him to handle.

“He was going to sell her on- but family and friends convinced him to give her to the RSPCA”.

The American bulldog cross breed is described as a “social” and “friendly” girl who loves to keep active.

She is currently reserved and set to go to new owners who know how to care for such an energetic dog.

Ms Kendall issued some advice to any prospective dog owners thinking about getting a dog for themselves while in lockdown.

She said: “If you are getting a puppy because you have been furloughed- you they need to think about what you can provide the puppy once you return to work.

“Research your dog properly and ensure you are getting it from a reputable charity or breeder.”

If you purchased a dog in lockdown and have now decided that they are too much for you to handle, Claire added: “Be careful who you pass dogs onto- only give them to trusted organisations such as Dogs Trust or the RSPCA.”