Number of people looking to give up their dogs has risen since restrictions eased, charity says

Dogs Trust warns of ‘looming crisis’ as online interest in pet rehoming doubles in six months

Andy Gregory
Friday 10 September 2021 23:00 BST
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A leading dog welfare charity has seen an increase in people looking to give away their dogs
A leading dog welfare charity has seen an increase in people looking to give away their dogs (Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

The number of people looking to give up their dogs has soared since coronavirus restrictions were lifted, a leading charity has warned.

The Dogs Trust said it has experienced a 35 per cent increase in calls from pet owners about giving up their dogs since 12 July, the date the government confirmed that so-called “Freedom Day” would go ahead the following week. It also corresponded with a 55 per cent rise in emails on the subject.

With some 3.2 million households in the UK having acquired a pet in the first year of the pandemic, according to one estimate, the charity warned of a “looming crisis” sparked by people seeking to return their newly-adopted canine companions.

Furthermore, traffic to the “giving up your dog” pages on the Dogs Trust’s website had nearly tripled from pre-pandemic levels by July – rising by 180 per cent.

The number of visits to the pages in July were also double that seen just six months earlier.

“Following the boom in pet ownership during the pandemic which saw millions of us delighting in the companionship of a dog, today's figures have sadly come as no surprise to us,” said Owen Sharp, the charity’s chief executive.

“As owners’ circumstances change, puppies grow into boisterous ‘teenagers’ and the country unlocks, many owners are being forced to reconsider the place in their lives for their pet.”

It follows a similar warning from the RSPCA in January that the boom in pet ownership could turn into “a major dog welfare crisis” later in the year once people’s lifestyles changed as the pandemic eased.

With the Dogs Trust estimating that up to 85 per cent of dogs are anxious when left home alone, animal welfare charities have been warning for months about the need to make preparations for how to best accommodate dogs accustomed to near-constant companionship once restrictions ease.

However, the pandemic has brought uncertainty for many, with at least 130,000 households in England having been made homeless during the first year of the pandemic and more than 800,000 jobs lost in the first year alone.

Speaking to BBC Morning Live, an employee at one of the Dogs Trust’s rehoming centres named Carol cited a recent case in which a family who had lost their jobs and and in turn their home as a result of the pandemic found they were not allowed to keep their pet in their new rented accommodation.

Following the ownership boom during lockdown, the Pet Food Manufacturers’ Association estimates there are some 34 million pets in the UK, including 12 million dogs.

It is often suggested that some 130,000 dogs are placed in rescue or rehoming centres each year in the UK, based on figures gleaned from two surveys carried out in 2009 and 2010.

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