National pet charity Blue Cross has released a report to MPs demonstrating that the UK could face crisis in areas of pet welfare if warning signs are not addressed early.
* Financial pressures on pet owners leading to a spike in abandonment
* Delayed veterinary treatments, such as vaccinations, leading to outbreaks of disease
> . Irresponsible breeding, online sales and transfers of pets from within the UK, and illegally imported puppies.
> . Closure of centres and sanctuaries as the loss of revenue takes effect means no support for pets in need.
At a time when less rehoming can take place and while demand is so high, many animals are being bought online without owners necessarily considering long-term costs or commitments.
Despite lockdown, there remains a high number of puppies available to buy online, with more 400 adverts placed daily. The market for puppies remains strong: the prices of popular breeds like French bulldogs have risen over 40%, from an average of £1,750 in 2018, compared with prices today of an average of £2,500.
The charity’s head of public affairs, Becky Thwaites, said: “Lockdown has been a time where many responsible breeders have not been producing and selling litters, due to the inability to breed safely and within Government guidelines. This has provided a real opportunity for irresponsible breeders and sellers to take advantage, listing pets for sale and delivering them to homes or pick-up points where buyers have not been able to see the mum or assess the health of their new puppy.
“We need the Government to determine the impact covid-19 has had on puppy farming, smuggling and unlawful selling of puppies and kittens.”
Blue Cross is additionally concerned that a number of animal rescues could be forced to close, placing further pressure on the remaining rescues to step in and care for those animals, each of which will be trying to manage in a tighter financial position than before.
In a survey of rescue and rehoming organisations carried out by the Association of Dogs and Cats Homes, 52% of members said they had three months of income and reserves remaining, while 32% had less than three months.
Blue Cross is urging the Government to bring in long-promised legislation to regulate animal sanctuaries and to target investment in the sector to allow crucial support to be provided.
Blue Cross recommends that the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs works in partnership with the devolved administrations to undertake a thorough and wide-ranging assessment of the impact of the outbreak on animal welfare across the UK.
The full report and range of recommendations can be read at https://www.bluecross.org.uk/petsandcovid