Lockdown Puppies: Stop Buying from Breeders

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We are a nation of dog lovers. Million of us have been at home much more over the past year. This means we have significantly more time on our hands, causing a large increase in the demand for puppies. We need the company and, of course, the cuteness. Unfortunately, many have decided against adopting from a rescue shelter which I believe is the most rewarding way to welcome a pup into one’s life. For some reason, many look down on adoption and fostering. This is quite strange as buying from breeders and online sites isn’t looked down on in the same way, especially considering their utter disregard for the dogs’ wellbeing and the high possibility of being scammed. 

Pets4Homes is the UK’s largest free online pet marketplace. At the peak of the pandemic the demand for puppies rose by 104% compared with the year prior. A report also stated that seven million people searched on their website during this time. Although it’s amazing many canines are finding loving homes, there are many negatives that come along with the boom. 

Despite Pets4Home having a major boost, rescue centres have still been struggling. This is because they haven’t been able to open to the public since the beginning of the national lockdown in Spring last year. This means even people who do not want to wait to adopt have had to turn to Pets4Home and other sites. The skyrocketing demand has also increased prices drastically and even more worryingly, scammers. Why not save the trouble of dodging all the scammers and instead adopt a dog in need?

ActionFraud found that between March and April 2020 alone, hopeful pet owners lost a combined income of £282,686 while putting deposits down for kittens and puppies. With the recent lockdown boom, this amount may be far higher now. Pets4home data also indicated that attempts to scam or ‘mislead’ rose by over 300% compared with 2019. Scammers used lockdown restrictions to their advantage as it was an easy excuse as to why the puppies cannot be visited. Other common tactics scammers use is to cite potential owners by sending pictures of the dogs and asking for a deposit. Then suddenly, they stop responding to messages and their accounts disappear. In answer to this, Pets4Home have introduced a new ‘Safe Deposit’ feature that is supposed to make buying more secure. However, many are still raising concerns with the website as a whole arguing they need more regulations and policies in place. Despite this, I think that the only real solution is to convince people to stop buying from sites like this as, whilst many have good intentions, adopting from a shelter is much safer for the dogs as well as the hopeful owners. 

The RSPCA predicted that although many more dogs have been bought, thousands more would be returned or dumped. People have been at home more, so instinctively wanted a companion and maybe acted a little impulsively. They then realised that ’it wasn’t for them’ or found that the responsibility of being a dog owner was too much. This is wrong and selfish. As the RSPCA stated, hundreds of ‘lockdown puppies’ are being returned or resold after owners struggle to cope only months after buying them. Buyers have to start being more responsible and do prior research to avoid breaking these poor pups’ hearts.  

Similarly, The Dogs Trust has received calls from over 1,800 people over the past three months wanting to hand over dogs younger than one-year-old. They received 114 calls on December 27 and 28 alone, including for 19 puppies under nine months old. They also released a report recently stating that although they have not yet seen a spike in dogs being given back to them over the last six months they have seen a 41% increase in web traffic to its ‘giving up your dog’ page. Sadly, they are still expecting a surge in dogs being handed over to them as lockdown restrictions lift. 

We must start rescuing our beloved dogs. Rescuing or even temporarily fostering animals comes with a much greater reward for both the owners and animals. There is a surplus of dogs in this country, yet we are still looking elsewhere and encouraging more and more to be bred. Boycotting breeders is best for everyone as not only will it cut the risk of being scammed, but is significantly more beneficial for the pups we know and love. 

Words by Amy Stansfield

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