Hundreds of puppies that were bought during the lockdown in 2020 are now being advertised on resale sites after their owners have decided that they can no longer look after them.
After the initial rush to get some canine company, dogs between the age of 6 and 12 months old are now advertised on sites that sell pets and other animals, often for very high prices which are likely to be some way towards what the owner initially paid for them.
Many of the owners claim that lifestyle changes, such as going back to the office or having the kids at home more, is the reason behind the sale, but others are claiming that changes in employment or a surprise at how difficult it is to look after a dog are to blame.
Our investigation found one seller of an 11-month-old Blue English Bulldog say “the reason for the sale is unfortunately we don’t have allot [sic] of time to spend with him due to work and kids”.
Another, who is selling an 8-month-old Bedlington x Whippet says they sold him just before Christmas, but he was returned after the new owners changed their minds.
A change in employment, and a realisation that the new dog doesn’t get on with older dogs, are two other reasons which frequently crop up.
But what is even more troubling is the price of the dogs. Many are being sold for over £1,000, with some owners admitting that they would like to try and get back some of the money they originally paid for the dog a few months ago.
There are fears that if the dogs are not purchased, they could be abandoned. Taking a pet to a rescue centre to be rehomed appropriately is often the best-case scenario, but there is also a risk that they will soon become overwhelmed.
Zoe Edwards, Mayhew’s Head of Animal Welfare said:
“We are extremely concerned about the spike in online sales of cats and dogs. Many of these animals have been acquired during the recent lockdown periods, often at hugely inflated expense and without owners fully considering the long term implications of taking on a cat or dog. We believe the selling trend is being driven by people realising they can’t cope with the animal and then trying to recoup money they have spent, and we fully expect to see these animals coming into rescue centres further down the line after being passed around without proper processes being followed.
Many dogs in particular acquired during lockdown will be at risk of behavioural and medical issues as a result of improper socialisation, and rescues will eventually bear the strain of this as they take on animals with huge additional needs that will have to be met before they can be safely rehomed.
The Mayhew has also noticed some troubling behaviour from people who have put their pets up for adoption, and are still waiting for the peak of intakes to the charity:
“We have not yet seen a significant upswing in calls from the public wishing to hand over their animals, which we believe is down to people seeking to sell as a first step. We have noticed recently that when we do take in a puppy of a popular breed, we usually find owners change their minds quite quickly after intake asking for their dog back. We suspect this common theme is because they have realised they could have made several thousand pounds by selling the puppy online themselves, which could result in this dog landing in an unvetted, possibly unsafe new home.
“We would implore people who are struggling with a new cat or dog to seek the support of a reputable rehoming organisation. Mayhew’s Rehome from Home scheme enables animals to be rehomed without coming into the shelter environment, but with the assurance of our adoption officers vetting prospective new owners.”
The Times reported that The Dogs Trust charity has had more than 1,800 calls in the last three months from people wanting them to rehome dogs that are under one year old. On the 27th of December alone, they had 114, with some being puppies under 9 months old.
It is something we reported was at risk of happening just before Christmas, with the RSPCA concerned that the trend of buying a dog for the company would continue over Christmas, to then see more dogs needing a loving home just after the festive period.
Slightly older puppies aren’t the only ones being sold on these websites either; newborns are also being advertised, some of which under uncertain circumstances with no confirmation of Kennel Club registration or information about the parents, for prices in the thousands of pounds. This is perhaps still the later stages of the trend of a ‘Puppy For Lockdown’, especially as we enter a period of another lockdown.