Salford animal charity Dogs4Rescue has warned that they are “about to face the biggest rescue crisis ever”, following the surge in puppy purchases over the lockdown.
The Irlam-based organisation has been rescuing and rehoming dogs since 2013, but now they are facing a new problem.
Dogs4Rescue founder Emma Billington says people are now getting “priced out of the puppy market”- and it’s hitting rescues hard.
She said: “We’ve now got a waiting list and a lot of the waiting list is because a lot of people contact us now asking what the price of our dogs are. That was never a thing before.
“People used to come and get a rescue dog just because they wanted one, but now it seems like a fallback or a cheaper option, which is ridiculous.”
She added that the charity has gone from “five queries” to “100 queries a day looking for dogs.”
“You can tell by the demand coming in everyone’s been looking for puppies, but now they’re turning to rescue.
“They’re all expecting them to be pedigrees. ‘I want a poodle-cross, I want this, I want them to be from six weeks’- this is not the kind of person we’d usually deal with.
“The desperation for people to get a dog is ridiculous.”
According to the RSPCA, the number of people searching for puppies online during the lockdown has risen more than 650% compared to the beginning of the year. The prices of puppies have also increased.
Emma also believes that lockdown has allowed for criminal puppy smuggling to go undetected by people who want a dog: “Because the market’s so high, people have turned from smuggling drugs to smuggling puppies now.
“They’re worth more.”
The situation is worrying for people like Emma, but it doesn’t always end badly.
58-year-old Salfordian Carol Byrne received Bichon-Frise puppy Lillypup earlier this year, following an unexpected redundancy and the death of her mother. Though she was a surprise, Carol says that her new friend “brought love back into her life.”
“I actually get out of bed in the morning now” she said. “It had been getting difficult getting out of bed after I lost my mum.
“Now [Lillypup] comes and greets me, licking my face and I have to get up and I enjoy getting up.”
Statistics from the Kennel Club’s BePupwise campaign reveal that 65% of new dog owners in the North West claimed their dog to be the best part of the lockdown. And for Carol, this was certainly the case- even in the darkest of times.
Without Lilly, Carol says she would be spending the lockdown “sat at home moping.”
“Just the fact that I come out and walk her twice a day in [the park]. You meet people and you chat; the social isolation is eased” she explained.
“She’s given my life a purpose again and she’s also made me feel like I have a life.
“I’m enjoying it, even with all the grief that’s going on.”
If you want to learn more about Dogs4Rescue and their work, please visit their website: https://dogs4rescue.co.uk/