UK Lockdown Causes Boom in Pet Ownership
Following the announcement of a nationwide quarantine in response to the outbreak of Covid-19 on March 20th, 2020, many UK citizens decided to purchase a new pet to help them to cope. With the inability to leave the house or go on holidays, families, couples and single adults alike went in search of an animal companion.
Why Was There a Boom in Pet Ownership?
During the first stages of the Covid pandemic in which the entire nation was thrown into lockdown, many people were finding it difficult to cope. The people of the UK were unable to see family or friends, go on day trips, or go on holiday. Indeed, many people were unable to even go outside, for that matter. Additionally, with many adults working from home and restless children unable to play with their friends or go to school, many people started to look for a coping mechanism.
Some people sought a pet as a compromise as they could not take their families away on vacation. Others were struggling with feelings of loneliness, anxiety, or depression and needed a companion to help pick them up. Alternatively, people were finding that they had a lot more time on their hands and decided that 2020 would be a good time to get a new pet. This is because the lock-down allowed people to focus on their new pet fully whilst they adjusted.
What Pets Were The Most Popular?
According to the data, puppies proved the most popular during the Covid-19 pandemic. It made the news in September of 2020 as puppy prices soared in response to the interest. Prices for puppies had more than doubled during 2020, with breeders taking full advantage of the nation’s desperation for new furry friends. The average price of a puppy by September 2020 had gone up to £1,900.
Scamming prospective pet owners out of their money during this trying time had unfortunately also become commonplace. Many people had contacted the police with reports of “breeders” taking large deposits and then terminating contact with the buyer.
How Are So Many People Able to Own Pets?
The Google search for “buy a puppy” increased by 166% during the spring of 2020. Following this, figures have shown that over 50% of the UK population own a pet, and up to 73% considered themselves animal lovers during the pandemic. Additionally, the recent changes to rental agreement laws have now made it possible for pet owners to lease a property with more ease. And whilst this is good news for those that own pets already, it does not help with the welfare crisis.
What Does The Pet Ownership Boom Mean For The UK?
With pet ownership figures soaring and the nation returning back to work, we may start to see people doubling back. Returning to work means new owners are now unable to focus as much attention on their pets. This could result in a variety of possibilities:
- Pets developing separation anxiety.
- Pets being neglected.
- Surrendering of pets to shelters or rescues.
- Pets being abandoned.
This is a very real possibility, which had already started by the end of 2020 as has only grown. Due to financial hardship or lack of availability, shelters were starting to receive a growing number of surrendered pets.
What Can Be Done To Help?
The key thing to consider if you are wanting a new pet is adopting rather than buying. Unfortunately, purchasing a puppy only fuels the puppy farm industry and adds to the problem. Sadly, many shelters are currently at capacity, with many people experiencing buyer remorse. As well as many finding they are unable to care for their new pet properly. Giving an abandoned puppy or kitten a forever home can save their life.
Additionally there are several other things that can be done to try and help the pet rescue industry:
- Donate Money – With fundraisers being impossible at the current time, shelters are having to operate at full capacity on much more limited budgets. Donating money to the cause can help to keep them in business.
- Donate Food and Toys – If you are unable to commit to donating money to a rescue organisation, consider dropping off bags of food and toys for the puppies to play with. A cheap bag of food can go a long way, every little helps.
- Foster – Perfect for if you have the time to help out a shelter but are not sure about owning a dog of your own. Fostering can relieve shelters of the strain they are experiencing.
- Volunteer – If you can’t keep a pet at your home, volunteering would be a huge help. Volunteers are always needed at rescues and shelters to properly look after a large number of pets coming into them.
- Share Pictures – Take a look at the #MissionForeverFriend hashtag on Instagram and share share share. Even if you are not looking to get a pet for yourself, a shared image could reach that animal’s future forever home.
The UK is experiencing many hardships in the wake of the pandemic. Assisting shelters and rescues is one way that you can help put the nation to rights again.