21/04/2020 12:00 AM
With new figures showing a surge in interest in getting a puppy, the Kennel Club has urged people to use the coronavirus lockdown to do their research and not rush into getting a new pet.
Searches for new puppies via the Kennel Club’s ‘Find a Puppy’ tool increased by 53% from February to March, with the biggest spike seen in the week leading up to lockdown. Between 16 and 23 March, searches were up 37% compared to the previous week, and 84% compared to the same week last year.
The top three most searched for breeds are all traditional ‘family favourites’ — Labradors, Cocker Spaniels and Golden Retrievers.
On 6 April, new legislation came into force which aims to help stop puppy farming. Known as ‘Lucy’s Law’, it bans the sale of puppies and kittens from third-party sellers — such as a pet shop or commercial dealer — unless they have bred the animal themselves.
The law is named after a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel who died in 2016 after being kept in poor conditions on a puppy farm.
Welcoming Lucy’s Law as a “long-awaited and crucial step”, Holly Conway, head of public affairs at the Kennel Club, said that irresponsible breeders in the UK and abroad often depend on commercial third-party sellers to disguise the “horrific conditions” puppies are bred and brought up in.
Conway added: “With people staying at home, meaning they have more time on their hands and to spend with family, it’s perhaps unsurprising that some are thinking about getting a puppy. While we would underline that now may not be the right time to bring home a puppy, or make an impulsive decision to get a pet, these 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. The new legislation requires puppies to be born and reared in a safe environment, kept with their mother and only sold from their place of birth, instead of a pet shop or commercial animal dealer.
“The current situation could provide a good opportunity for potential new owners to really do their research — from carefully considering if they’re genuinely ready for all the responsibilities that come with a dog and finding the right breed for them, as there are 222 to choose from, to understanding what a responsible breeder looks like and learning how to ‘puppy proof’ the home or make changes to their lifestyle to accommodate their new family member.”