The Pup-demic: decline in demand for dogs, says MADRA

The reality of life post-Covid is harsh for our four-legged friends, writes Ava Keady.

The pandemic may be coming to a close, but the effects of the past two years are only beginning to come to light. The return to normal life brought with it a new issue of its own – a pup-demic.  

Fur-ever home no more

In 2020, many families made the decision to get a family pet to pass the numerous days of lockdown. While this was an amazing way to help give a dog a home, many new pet owners did not consider how their new pup would fit into their usual hectic schedules.

This year so far, MADRA has seen a 21 per cent increase in rescues compared to 2021. In July, they saw the most applications ever for people wanting to surrender their pups.   

Not only is this horrifyingly difficult for the animals themselves, but it also creates a huge problem for the animal shelters. 

Galway Pulse spoke to Dawn Divilly from MADRA Galway regarding the issue. 

“We predicted this; we knew it wouldn’t end well,” said Ms Divilly. 

“The demand for dogs was unbelievable [during the pandemic], we were getting hundreds of applications. There was more demand than supply, which led to even more unethical breeding than usual.”

Although they may have seen that hardship coming “what we didn’t anticipate is how little demand there is now… usually summer is very popular as it is a good time to get dogs, kids are off school, parents could be off work, but this year people were getting to travel again so the amount of adoption dropped dramatically.” 

Paws for thought

Ms Divilly also strongly acknowledged the current cost of living crisis is another major factor affecting the demand. 

“People simply can’t afford dogs, between insurance, vets, food etc. They are prioritizing family needs of course.”

Ms Divilly said that people’s reasons for giving up their pets are “genuine, no one does it deliberately.” 

She admits that she feels as though people didn’t think long-term when they got their dogs during COVID.  

“They suddenly had time as they were working from home and the kids were off-school and it was a great idea to help pass the time.”  

Although the overall number of dogs being surrendered to the Connemara-based shelter is on the up, none of the dogs adopted from MADRA have been returned to their care.

This is largely due to the rigorous adoption process set in place by the organization, which ensures that all the dogs are going to safe, loving homes. 

“We will only match a dog to a family if we are certain it’s the right fit, for the present and future circumstances.” 

When asked what the public, and particularly students, could do, Ms Divilly explained the importance of donations and fundraising. 

“Fundraising is massive, something as simple as a sponsored walk or run… or to sponsor a dog online, whether you donate 1 euro or 5 euro, it all helps… and of course, sharing our posts on social media, you never know who it could reach.” 

Follow MADRA on Instagram and Facebook. Click here to donate. 

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