We’ve taken a look at independent research from across the UK to shed some light on how we, as a nation, have become more thoughtless about buying a new puppy. Since lockdown was announced in March, Google searches for ‘buy a puppy’ increased 166% and The Kennel Club saw a 180% increase in enquiries from potential dog owners. Adverts posted across online marketplaces during lockdown for puppies, dogs, kittens and cats also increased 125%.
According to the research, one in four people admit to buying a puppy in lockdown with little or no research. 27% of new puppy owners said the main reason for getting a puppy was to help them get through lockdown and a shocking 25% don’t know if their dog will suit their lifestyle after lockdown.
Any reputable breeder will arrange for you to see the puppy in their breeding environment before taking them home but 42% of pandemic puppy buyers didn’t see the breeders home virtually or in person. And shockingly, one in four people admitted that they could have inadvertently bought from a puppy farm. 27% paid money before even seeing the puppy and between March and April, 669 people were scammed out of £282,686 after paying deposits for pets that were advertised online. 83% weren’t asked a single question by the breeder about their suitability as puppy owners and another concerning statistic showed that 15% of new puppy owners agree in hindsight that they weren’t ready to get a pet.
Since the government restrictions were introduced, RSPCA rescuers have dealt with 42,685 incidents of animal cruelty and received 3,492 reports of abandonment, including 1,509 dogs, 1,165 cats, 299 small furries such as hamsters and 275 exotic pets. The RSPCA is bracing itself for a significant surge in abandoned animals and fears that the fallout from the pandemic could see more owners struggling to keep their pets. And Dogs Trust is predicting that more than 40,000 dogs could be at risk of abandonment in the fallout of the coronavirus crisis.
15% of people who got a puppy in lockdown were concerned about whether they can actually afford their dog and the associated costs such as food, vet bills and pet insurance. One in three new puppy owners didn’t even get pet insurance. In its entire lifetime, a dog will cost you at least £4,500 up to £13,000. On average, small dog breeds cost £50 a month, medium dog breeds £65 and large breeds can cost you as much as £80 a month, not including vet bills.