A “huge surge” of dogs being returned to shelters post-pandemic is expected, according to Director of Operations at MADRA, Dawn Divilly.
With people spending more time at home during consecutive lockdowns over the past year, there has been a spike in popularity of “pandemic puppies”.
To date, demand for dogs has not waned, as the pandemic continues to keep people at home. Galway’s MADRA (Mutts Anonymous Dog Rescue and Adoption) have had to close their adoption and fostering application process several times since the pandemic began, as they couldn’t cope with the “absolutely nuts” demand for pandemic puppies over the past year.
However, MADRA anticipate not only that there will be an influx of pandemic pets being brought to shelters when normal life does resume, but that these dogs will be more likely to have socialisation issues, specifically due to lockdown.
“There’s very few puppy trainers open at the moment. Puppy classes would be hugely important when you get a new puppy, for socialisation and basic training. There’s a window of time when puppies are small that they’re really ready to be trained and socialised, and if you miss that window it can cause havoc later on.
“There’s without a doubt going to be problems in future with dogs that didn’t get out to puppy classes, and that weren’t seeing visitors to the house. They’ve missed out on a lot of normal experiences,” said Mrs Divilly.
The recent surge in demand for dogs has led to “puppy inflation”, with dog prices for particularly trendy breeds sitting at four or five times what they were pre-pandemic. This has proven a lucrative market for puppy farms, whose mass breeding practices often lead to behavioural and medical issues for dogs later in life.
MADRA expects that puppies purchased from these unethical breeders may also contribute to the anticipated surge of dogs coming into shelters post-COVID, as problems become evident with people’s maturing pandemic pets.
The anticipated influx of dogs will put added pressure on the already stretched organisation, whose volunteer numbers have had to be reduced to adhere to social distancing guidelines, and who have seen donations dry up significantly over the past year.
MADRA is urging people to really consider whether a dog will fit into their lifestyle, and where the dog is coming from, before taking on a new pet.
Mrs Divilly also highlighted the fact that when adopting from a shelter such as MADRA, you will get much more support post-adoption, such as access to a staff dog trainer, than you may get when purchasing a pet online.
“As far as we’re concerned, a MADRA dog is a MADRA dog for life, and you have our support just a phone call away.”