Dumping Pandemic Puppies Isn’t What Should Worry Us Most
I’m seeing numerous media reports of a massive dumping of pandemic puppies underway. That ‘charities have been inundated with calls to help rehome animals’ and rescue centres are being flooded with ‘lockdown puppies’.
I’ve shared some of these stories on my social media, in the hope it might help the apparently inundated rescues. But big headlines distract from the nub of a story. What’s really happening isn’t rescues swamped with dumped pandemic puppies, not yet anyway, it’s online reselling, setting up a harmful cycle as dogs are bumped from home to home.
Like any other second-hand item dogs are being traded. We’re at a place in society where treating sentient companion animals as commodities is acceptable. Selling sites enable it, some specifically forming to service this. A reality not created by the pandemic but certainly accelerated by it. Dogs are now going to where the money is, which is not necessarily the same place where the lifetime commitment is. With sellers seeking to recoup costs in a market place where dogs are desirable one week, discarded the next.
Recycling of young dogs on the selling sites is bad news. The early months of life for dogs are their most impressionable. Giving them to experienced rescuers, would be less concern than what’s actually happening. Buying and selling dogs in this way sets up a sequence of damage as they’re shunted in and out of different homes. Until finally, the exquisitely sensitive, sentient being – that’s not an innaminate bag to be shoved out the door with no consequences – at last lands into rescue. Albeit a beautiful soul, now older, traumatised, behaviourally challenged and trickier to place in a home than if all that dog trading in-between had not happened.
Of course, some dogs bought like this will go to great homes, where they stay. And all will be well. But, even a cursory look at the ugly commercial face of the dog industry shows this is not going to be the case for a lot of those caught up in a supply and demand frenzy of dog acquisition. Even before the pandemic, the selling sites were a mess for the dogs. Providing a legitimate outlet for an out-of-control industry governed by inadequately enforced legislation and fuelled by a poisonous combination of greed, opportunism and consumerism.
While all this is happening, established rescues with years of experience getting dogs into their right homes are being called upon to help far less than usual; a pattern that’s been present through the past few months.
Ben Wilkes, Trustee of Border Collie Trust GB says that things are noticeably different,
At Border Collie Trust we’ve seen less dogs throughout 2020 and been asked to assist less. The number of inquiries to adopt has been fairly consistent depending on current restrictions but there’s a real noticeable decrease in calls for help. Of those asking, the vast majority have varying degrees of issues and are of all ages so not just purchased since March. After 23 years rescuing collies it certainly is noticeably different.Ben Wilkes
A predictable consequence of the 2020 puppy buying frenzy was always going to be that many bought on a lockdown whim wouldn’t be in the same homes months down the line. Rescues are readying – as best they can amidst the turmoil of lost income, lockdowns, easings and back-in-place-again restrictions – for the calamity they fear is coming. But, at the moment, their expertise is not being utilised by the public giving up their dogs. Presenting an ominous sign of things to come.
Hope Rescue in Wales is a busy place, with stray dog contracts from several Local Authorities and a commitment to help all dogs irrespective of their age, breed or medical condition. Founder Vanessa Waddon says they haven’t yet seen any volume of younger dogs coming in but are expecting that to change in months to come,
The overall number of dogs that have come in has fallen from last year – 587 in 2020 compared to 908 in 2019. The main reduction is the number of stray dogs down from 570 to 309. Surrender numbers are roughly equal across the 2 years.
However, a notable development is in the needs of the dogs arrving at Hope,
What we are seeing is an increase in the number of dogs coming in with health conditions that owners can’t afford to treat, and also dogs in from owners who have passed away. The former are either being referred to us by the owners’ vets or are coming in as abandoned “strays”. At the moment demand for dogs is still very high, whether that be for rescue dogs or purchased dogs. We have received over 5,000 applications since lockdown began. If owners cannot keep their lockdown puppy it is more likely they will be selling on in order to recoup their purchase prices, or will pass on to a friend or family member. Personally, I don’t think we will see the lockdown pups for another 6 months or so when it hasn’t worked out in their second home. By this time any behavioural issues could have been compounded further.Vanessa Waddon
Giving up a dog is often the best thing that can happen to it. When that’s to a good, reputable rescue. Not selling to a second or third home where the determining factor in where it ends up is who has the most cash. The vast sums of money that have long swilled in the cesspit that is today’s commercial dog industry are creating a looming crisis of monumental proportions. One which won’t show its true extent and nature for some time to come.
The practical thing we can encourage those who recognise they can’t, or won’t, give the dogs the lives they need, is to contact sooner rather than later, their local, established or, breed specific rescue for help. And to steer clear of the selling sites, including Facebook groups where no accountability resides. For littering social media are ‘rescues’ which peddle dogs they’ve bought from the selling sites or puppy farmers (with donated money) only to hawk them around under the guise of ‘adoption’.
If we can help to move people towards accepting they made a mistake but will now put the needs of the dog first, it will prevent compounding the original error. Putting aside any wish to recoup money they paid for a life which depends on them to do the right thing, might be hard and won’t be the commercially best thing but what matters most? Money or the well-being of the dog? Might be a toughie for some that one, but there will be others who’ll do the right thing if helped.
To find a list of rescues which are members of the Association of Dogs and Cats Homes visit HERE.