Arts and Culture

A Dog is for Life, Not Just for Lockdown; The Plight of the Pandemic Puppy

Ffion Wyn Jones

Back in the blissful, distant past of March 2020 when we were naive enough to believe that Covid would be a distant memory by the summer, it seemed to many that this would be the ideal time to welcome a new furry friend.

And who could blame them?

It seemed the ideal time, a few weeks off work to socialise and train them up. And who could imagine anything better than a little bundle of fluff to liven up the monotony and loneliness of having to quarantine for three whole weeks. 

It is becoming apparent, however, that it was not the odd family making this decision, but thousands of people worldwide. The Kennel Club has found that ¼ of those who bought a puppy in lockdown did so on impulse with little research into the puppy’s background or if they’re the ‘right dog’ for their family. The BBC has published articles showcasing how many families are now struggling to cope with their covid companions. There’s a reported  140% increase in enquiries through the Kennel Club’s  ‘puppy portal’ compared to 2019, with waiting lists for dogs growing ever longer as the demand far outstrips demand. They also found that as many as 20% of those new dog owners “don’t know whether their dog will suit their lifestyle after lockdown”. 

This poses the question – what happens to all of these dogs after lockdown? When life returns to normal and people go back to working away from home for 40+ hours a week, who will keep these animals entertained?

Dogs are pack animals, and if they are familiar with constant human interaction they will, understandably, become incredibly anxious if that changes. These dogs will also have had very little interaction with other dogs, and thus unable to interact with companions from their own species. Rescue centres across the UK are bracing themselves for many such pandemic puppies being surrendered to them as owners are unable to adequately care for them once normal life resumes.

An Anxious puppy waits for their owner to return, this scene will become familiar to many as they return to work.

As one might expect, the trend for lockdown pooches has also driven up puppy prices across the country. Many are paying as much as £4500 for a dog. This has sparked an alarming trend for dog theft, with puppies being snatched from breeders and beloved pets being taken from gardens. Many have also fallen victim to irresponsible breeders and ‘dogfishing’ scams. 

As the months and months of lockdown after lockdown draws on, many have come to realise that their decision to buy a puppy may not have been for the best. But I urge you to consider that you made a commitment when you purchased that dog. A dog is for life, not just for lockdown and you owe it to your pet to continue to care for them once life returns to normal.