United Kingdom

Animal rescue centre getting 'multiple calls a week' to take in abandoned 'death row dogs'

The owner of an animal rescue centre has revealed it is getting 'multiple calls a week' to take in 'death row dogs' abandoned by their unscrupulous owners.  

The Covid-19 pandemic saw a huge surge in people impulse buying dogs to keep them company at home, but with lockdown restrictions easing, hundreds of puppies are being resold or handed in to rescue centres.

However with many rescue centres are already at capacity thanks to 'buyer's remorse', vet Rory Cowlam warned: 'My worry is that euthanasia will become the only option. Most rescues have a 'no-kill' policy, but once they're full, they're full.' 

Meanwhile Niall Lester, co-founder of New Hope Animal Rescue centre in Kent, told the Sunday Telegraph, many of the animals are unlikely to be adopted from rescue centres having developed behavioural issues, such as separation anxiety, because they haven't been socialised properly during the pandemic.  

An animal rescue centre is getting 'multiple calls a week' to take in 'death row dogs' abandoned by their unscrupulous owners. Stock image 

'And it's the dogs with behavioural issues, or the ones that look a bit weird, that are less likely to be homed.' 

In January it was reported that hundreds of 'lockdown puppies' are being resold or handed in to rescue centres, because short-sighted owners are struggling to cope only months after buying them.

Sellers have flooded pet websites with adverts for dogs aged between six and 12 months, with many admitting they either do not have the time or the money to look after them. 

Furthermore, research from pet wellness experts Itch revealed that nearly three quarters of Brits surveyed who brought a 'lockdown puppy' worry their pet will have separation related issues once life returns to normal.

The Covid pandemic saw a huge surge in people impulse buying dogs to keep them company at home (Stock image)

The study also found that 40 per cent of new dog owners have experienced regrets about their purchase, with one in five not realising the work involved in raising and caring for a puppy. 

'Lockdown puppies' flood rescue centres as they're abandoned by owners 

Hundreds of puppies purchased during the pandemic are being resold or handed in to rescue centres.

Sellers in early January flooded pet websites with adverts for dogs aged between six and 12 months.

Many owners admitted they either do not have the time or the money to look after them.

The price of puppies surged to more than £3,000 for some breeds last year as many people started working from home or were furloughed.

Dozens of adverts have now appeared on sites such as Pets4you and Preloved as owners hope to recoup their costs.

More than 1,800 people have called the Dogs Trust over the past three months wanting to hand over dogs aged under one year old.

The charity received 114 calls on December 27 and 28 alone, including for 19 puppies under nine months old.

The RSPCA said it was 'really concerned' that so many dogs were being resold and was 'bracing itself' for more animals to be abandoned.

Lester said: 'I get multiple calls a week from vets saying: 'This young dog's been brought in to be put to sleep because it's got separation anxiety or is possessive over toys and food and has nipped because it's not been given the right guidance''. 

Many rescue centres are already at capacity thanks to 'buyer's remorse', while also facing unprecedented budget cuts and financial strain themselves. 

Strays can often end up in the council pound, but the animals can only be kept for seven days.

If unclaimed, the animals can be sold or disposed of as they wish.  

Meanwhile Lester warned the problem will only worsen as indoor drinking and dining opens from next week, with all legal restrictions set to end on June 21st.

He said: 'The majority of these owners just want to get rid of the problem...

'Sadly I foresee a lot more euthanisations later in the year when the problems start arising from the mistakes people have made.' 

In March, Sylvia Van Atta, co-founder of Many Tears, near Llanelli, Carmarthenshire, said the surge in abandoned dogs being taken to their centre because of lockdown has been a 'nightmare'.

Appearing on ITV she explained that the centre is struggling to survive because of the overwhelming number of animals who have been given up by their owners who bought them on a whim during the pandemic. 

She said several animals had been arriving at the centre with behavioural problems because owners weren't training them properly, while many others returned them after realising they couldn't afford the pet.    

Sylvia said puppies as young as 18-weeks-old had come to the centre after already being sold three times on social media - with designer dogs such as Cockapoos being one of the most common breeds to be abandoned. 

'It's hit really hard and been a real struggle to keep going,' she said.

'We're trying to do our very best to make it work and the staff have been wonderful, but it's just a nightmare to be honest.' 

She said animals are being so poorly trained when they first arrive with a new owner that they become 'unsellable' and have to be taken to a rescue centre.  

'They've been sold on various social media sites until they're not sellable, because they're not trained and they have a problem and people don't dare sell them when they have a big problem, so they give them to us.'   

Erica, 36, who lives alone in a small south London flat, admitted she was unprepared for the challenges of owning a dog during the pandemic.

In January she told Femail that she had been working at home as a digital manager since the pandemic began, and in September adopted 10-month-old terrier mix Peanut.

After being told she wasn't an 'ideal candidate' while trying to re-home a puppy in the UK - with a small home and no garden - Erica turned to charities working abroad, and rescued Peanut from Cyprus. 

Although happy about her decision to adopt Peanut, Erica regrets not preparing herself properly for owning a dog, admitting that she sometimes worries the animal doesn't 'have the life he wants' with little space to run around in. 

She has also been frustrated with Peanut's slow training and disobedience, telling that she wasn't expecting the animal to be such a financial burden at £60 and £100 per month. 

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