Pandemic could result in tens of thousands of homeless dogs, charity warns

Up to 40,000 dogs could become homeless due to the coronavirus pandemic, Dogs Trust has warned.

Demand for puppies has soared during lockdown, with Google searches for ‘buy a puppy’ increasing by 166% since late March.

But the charity is concerned that the economic effects of Covid-19 may force people to give up their pets, especially if — as economists have predicted — we see a financial crisis similar to the crash of 2008, which led to a more than 25% rise in the number of stray and abandoned dogs.

Behavioural problems developed during lockdown, such as separation anxiety, could lead to more dogs being abandoned, worsening the fallout of the pandemic, Dogs Trust believes.

And if enough safe rescue shelter space cannot be found for dogs taken in by local authorities, euthanasia rates could also increase by up to 25% in the next year — as was seen in 2009 following the recession — meaning that more than 1,800 dogs could be put to sleep unnecessarily.

“In these extraordinary times we know that circumstances can change in a heartbeat,” said Owen Sharp, chief executive of Dogs Trust. “The sad reality is that in times of financial hardship many people struggle to cope with looking after their pets, and the number of abandoned dogs has gone up. We saw this in 2008, and we’re extremely concerned that history could repeat itself in the coming months.

“We’ve already taken a number of dogs in from owners who have sadly passed away from or been hospitalised with Covid-19. We’re doing everything we can to minimise the impact of this crisis on dog welfare, and would urge anyone needing to give up their dog to please turn to us first, and we’ll do everything we possibly can to help you and your dog.”

Dogs Trust has launched an urgent appeal to help ensure it can continue to be there for as many dogs as possible.

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