January 24, 2022

Lockdown puppies already being abandoned by owners who ‘don’t have time for them’

Britain’s lockdown dogs are still only puppies – but they are already being abandoned as owners find they can’t afford them or don’t have time for them, animal shelters say.

One charity founder says she is seeing a huge boost in puppies being surrendered, as owners give up the pets they bought during the lockdown dog boom.

Becky Mosley took in a dog at her North Lincolnshire rehoming charity who became poorly with a deadly infection after its owner attempted to force her to breed with her brother.

The Bliss Cavalier Rescue volunteer said prices for King Charles Spaniel pups rocketed from £900 to around £3,000 in lockdown, creating a tempting market for “unscrupulous” breeders.

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Dog named Alice who was given away on Facebook and new owner tried mating her with her brother- she nearly died from Pyometra
Alice was given away on Facebook and new owner tried mating her with her brother- she nearly died from Pyometra

“Sadly there’s money to be made for breeding puppies for unscrupulous breeders who don’t breed for temperament or health,” Becky warned.

She said restrictions easing in England had coincided with a rush of enquiries from people wanting to surrender their dogs.

In some cases, people realised they could no longer afford pooches they bought during lockdown.

In other examples, they had been swindled by crooked breeders who had sold them sick or badly bred puppies whose vet bills left the new owners out of pocket, she told the Mirror.

One dog her charity rescued in recent weeks was purchased by an unwitting buyer from Facebook who answered an ad offering a dog ‘free to a good home.’

The buyer soon discovered the dog was very ill.

Becky says it turned out the Facebook advertiser had found the pup abandoned in her property by a couch surfer, who had attempted unsuccessfully to mate the dog with her brother in hopes of breeding puppies to sell.

King Charles Cavalier spaniel pup Leo
King Charles Cavalier spaniel pup Leo had to be rehomed after his new owner discovered he was allergic and the breeders wouldn’t return his calls

Unknown to the advertiser who had been trying to rehome the dog, the King Charles spaniel had become very sick as a result, Becky said.

Little Alice had a painful womb infection called Pyometra – which can be deadly if left untreated. Thankfully, vets nursed her back to health.

“We’ve started to see that particularly in the past two weeks we’ve had a lot of enquiries as the lockdown lifts,” Becky added.

“We think it’s like last time, when we’d had an influx of people wanting to surrender dogs – but this time it’s more.

“People make the initial enquiry because they are starting to have to go back to work at the office, people bought lockdown pets, they might have been furloughed before, and they may now have concerns about money, worries about vet bills.

“We’ve had quite a few surrendered into rescue because people just can’t afford to pay.”

Bluebell, an older King Charles Spaniel, who was recently turned in to Bliss Cavalier Rescue
Bluebell, an older King Charles Spaniel, who was recently turned in to Bliss Cavalier Rescue

In one case, an owner had a puppy, Leo, for just a few hours before realising he was allergic to him.

His calls to the dealer hoping to return the dog went ignored.

By the time he eventually surrendered the pet to Becky he had no hope of getting a refund, she said.

“He did the right thing by rehoming the puppy, but that man lost £2,000 because he couldn’t return the dog.”

Gill White, from The Border Collie Spot in Berkshire, said: “The number of dogs being returned are at unprecedented levels and when the final lockdown restrictions are lifted on the 21st of June, we expect to see the floodgates open as dog owners rush to return their dogs.

Leo, a dog who was surrendered after his owner purchased him and realised he was allergic to him
Leo was surrendered after his owner purchased him and realised he was allergic to him

“Rescue centres across the UK are at breaking point. Something has to be done now otherwise we aren’t going to be able to offer the support needed by these dogs.”

A new online survey of more than 2,000 UK dog owners commissioned by Burns Pet Nutrition in the second week of April found one in four new owners are considering getting rid of their dogs because of problems controlling them.

More than a third of people who bought a dog during lockdown fear their dogs will bite a stranger post lockdown as they meet new people and pooches for the first time, the survey found.

Dog called Cody, who was surrendered as elderly owners could no longer care for him, was obese and needed knee and hip ops
Cody, who was surrendered as elderly owners could no longer care for him, was obese and needed knee and hip ops

John Burns, veterinary surgeon, who has launched the Burns Dog School to help owners struggling with the transition out of lockdown, urged people not to give up.

“I’ve yet to come across a dog that can’t be trained. And there are simple tips that can help, even if you’re a first-time owner.”

“I hate to see any dog given away unless it’s absolutely necessary…so don’t give up too easily”