On Monday, The Kennel Club revealed that recent figures have shown a surge in interest in adopting puppies.
While the animal welfare organisation said it was unsurprising that more people were considering getting a dog during such an uncertain time, it added that no one should rush into doing so.
According to The Kennel Club, searches via its “find a puppy” tool had risen by 53 per cent between February and March, with the biggest increase coming in the week before Boris Johnson announced the UK lockdown.
Elsewhere, searches between 16 and 23 March were up 37 per cent compared with the previous week and up 84 per cent on the same week last year.
The top three most searched-for breeds were labradors, cocker spaniels and golden retrievers, it added.
The warning comes on the same day that legislation known as “Lucy’s law”, which bans the sale of puppies and kittens from third-party sellers, comes into effect.
The Kennel Club said it hoped that as well as improving welfare conditions, the new rules would encourage people thinking of getting a puppy to do their research and find a responsible breeder.
Holly Conway, the head of public affairs at the Kennel Club, said: “While we would underline that now isn’t the right time to bring home a puppy, or make an impulsive decision to get a pet, these [search] figures could be a sign of more people looking to find a breeder directly in the future, which is extremely positive and what Lucy’s law aims to impose.
“Preventing suffering caused by quick, careless decisions and deceptive, profit-hungry puppy farmers is what Lucy’s law is all about.
She added: “The more time you spend, the more aware you will be, and the much more likely you are to bring home a happy, healthy puppy from a responsible, caring breeder – rather than fuelling untold suffering and heartache as a result of third-party sellers hiding horrific breeding conditions.”
Under the new legislation, puppies and kittens can no longer be sold in England by a third party – such as a pet shop or dealer – but only those who have bred the animal.
It means that buyers planning to buy or adopt an animal younger than six months old must deal directly with the breeder or an animal rehoming centre.
The law is named after a cavalier King Charles spaniel called Lucy who died in 2016 after being kept in poor conditions on a puppy farm.
Following the announcement of the new law in May 2019, Michael Gove, the minister for the cabinet office, said: “This is about giving our animals the best possible start in life and making sure that no other animal suffers the same fate as Lucy.
“It will put an end to the early separation of puppies and kittens from their mothers, as well as the terrible conditions in which some of these animals are bred.”
Last month, Battersea Dogs and Cats Home revealed that it had seen an increase in the number of people providing new homes for pets.
For the week starting 16 March, the animal shelter found forever homes for 86 dogs and 69 cats, a marked increase from the same week last year, when just 42 dogs and 29 cats were adopted.
Rob Young, head of operations at Battersea Home, said it was not surprising that people in self-isolation were seeking “companionship”.
“As many people are preparing to spend a significant amount of time at home over the coming weeks, it is only expected that some may be thinking about the companionship a pet could offer,” Mr Young said.
“People are now having some more time to settle pets into their home, and are looking to do some good by rescuing animals who are waiting for their own home.”
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