Edinburgh Dog and Cat Home 'prepared' as number of unwanted pets soars during lockdown

Edinburgh Dog and Cat Home is bracing itself for an influx of unwanted animals after the number of pets bought during the pandemic soared.

The charity said fewer animals were being brought in during the pandemic, but in the last few weeks it had seen a number of dogs bought during lockdown that owners had not been able to cope with.

Director of development Nicola Gunn said: “We had a four-month-old cocker spaniel puppy brought to us on Christmas Eve who was bought during the restrictions and then the owner realised they couldn’t cope with its behaviour.

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"Our intake has decreased over the pandemic but we are prepared for a potential wave of more of these kind of cases. There has been an increase in people buying puppies throughout the pandemic, probably because of more people working from home. When people go back to the office that’s maybe when we will see an influx.”

And she urged people to think carefully before buying an animal.

"There is a lot of good advice out there for people considering buying a pet and a lot of people do their research and think it through, but there are occasion where maybe people haven’t thought through the commitment of a pet. Sometimes it can be an impulse decision and people haven’t stopped to think what’s going to happen in five years’ time or even 12 months.”

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The Scottish SPCA said it had already seen a 134 per cent increase in calls to its helpline from people looking to give up unwanted animals.

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Scottish SPCA: 134 per cent increase in people looking to give up unwanted anima...
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The Scottish SPCA says people should seek help with training or behaviour before deciding to give up a pet

Between September 1, 2020 and January 5, 2021, it received 476 calls from people looking to give up their animals compared with 205 calls in the same period in 2019/20. Calls about unwanted dogs increased were up from 105 to 213 and unwanted cats from 61 to 153.

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SSPCA chief superintendent Mike Flynn said: “We predicted an increase in unwanted animals last year after an explosion in demand for pets among people at home due to the pandemic.

“A generation of pups will have grown up in a household where the family is often around. Once that situation changes it can be hard for a dog to adjust and this can lead to behavioural issues and separation anxiety. These issues can lead to dogs being destructive and it is at this point many owners considering giving their pet up. What they don’t realise is that the dog is acting this way because of its own experiences not because of any ingrained issue.

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“It is heart-breaking to see a healthy animal which loves their family given up because the owners have lost interest or not considered how their circumstances may change. We would urge people to consider a reputable behaviourist or training before they give up their pet.”

The society said it had not seen an increase in pets being abandoned despite the growth in calls about unwanted animals.

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Mr Flynn said: “A rise in abandonments is something we’ve been worried about since last March. If anyone is no longer able or willing to look after their pet, they should contact us for advice and we will do what we can.

Anyone considering giving up their animal can contact the Scottish SPCA animal helpline on 03000 999 999 in confidence.

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