Lockdown has left people lonely and craving companionship. Many have turned to furry friends to fill the hole of human interaction but the RSPCA worries that pets will no longer be needed when the lockdown is over.

Since March, many have found themselves locked in and working from home. With the lack of things to do and a lot of free time, the demand for pets has skyrocketed.

The demand for puppies, in particular, has doubled with the average price being £1,900, according to the BBC, causing many to adopt rather than shop.

Cheryl Hague, the RSPCA representative for Greater Manchester, reports that there’s been a ‘massive increase’ of the number of people looking to adopt during the lockdown despite restrictions.

There’s been a change to how animal rescues operate but this hasn’t stopped the RSPCA Manchester and Salford Branch getting their animals adopted. With everything from cats, small furry friends, and reptiles up for adoption, the RSPCA has had to get creative with their adoption process.

Hague, who has recently adopted a kitten from one of the centres, describes the new vetting process. Instead of visiting the centre, you find your new friend online and begin the adoption virtually through video calls. Even your home check, to see if your home environment is suitable, is held virtually.

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However, pets aren’t for everyone. Having a pet isn’t easy and it isn’t always fun. The RSPCA encourages potential owners to do their research before committing to an animal. As Dogs Trust says, “a dog is for life, not just for Christmas.”

Between 23 March and 31 August 2020, the RSPCA rescued nearly 240 rabbits from owners who had not realised the extent of the responsibility needed to care for an animal’s life. The rabbits rescued had faced neglect, cruelty or abandonment.

Hague raises a concern that once restrictions ease and life returns to normal, many may cast their pets to the side as they no longer suit their lifestyle. She says that fear of animal abandonment rising in the new year is at the forefront of the RSPCA’s mind and encourages people not to rush into adoption.

Karen Wood, owner of Swinton Dog Training Ltd, offers advice to first-time dog owners who may be struggling to balance home-work life and pet care.

Socialisation is the key. Whether it’s with other dogs or people, Wood says socialisation is very important to a young dog’s development. If you’ve got an anti-social dog, still make sure that they get out. Once a dog is bored and not getting attention is when they become mischievous. She says that many opt to take their dogs to her doggy daycare even when working from home to stop unsupervised dogs turning destructive.

The dog trainer, who has been working with dogs for over 40 years, says that time and time again she sees inexperienced dog owners let their ‘designer dogs’ walk all over them. We often forget that even the cutest of dogs originated from wolves and work in a pack mentality. Wood advises to set boundaries otherwise your dog may think they’re in charge and won’t listen to commands when you need them to.

While many may be bored with lockdown restrictions, when choosing to bring a pet into your home there is a lot to think about. Nevertheless, if it is the right decision for you, adopting and giving a previously unwanted animal home can be very rewarding.

If you’re looking to adopt, you can go to the RSPCA website to begin the process.

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