Researchers probe lockdown surge in puppy sales

Researchers probe lockdown surge in puppy sales

The Animal Welfare Foundation (AWF) has awarded a grant to researchers at the Royal Veterinary College for a project in which they will examine why so many people bought puppies during the Covid-19 lockdown.

The initiative is one of five research projects to be awarded funding by the AWF, each of which will receive between £8000 and £11000 to help pay for their work. Two of the projects explore how the virus pandemic has affected the health and welfare of dogs; another two look at delayed euthanasia and the last examines the welfare effects of different rat control measures.

Conducted by Dr Rowena Packer, a lecturer in companion animal behaviour and welfare science at the RVC, the ‘pandemic puppies’ project will look at the increase in puppy sales, who bought them and why and how they were purchased.

Dr Packer said: The Covid pandemic has been the perfect storm for a canine welfare crisis. My team’s previous research identified that puppy buying behaviour was already sub-optimal in the UK prior to the pandemic. For example, many purchasers performed insufficient pre-purchase research and purchased their puppy without seeing it with its mother. These problems are likely to have been dramatically exacerbated during lockdown, with unprecedented demand and competition for puppies being cashed in on by unscrupulous breeders and puppy traffickers.

‘Our project will take stock of how and why new owners went about purchasing their puppies during lockdown and their future plans for their dogs. From this, we will identify vulnerabilities to the health, behaviour and welfare of this puppy population, so we can effectively promote ways to safeguard their future.’