A charity has seen a “significant increase” in the number of animals in need of its care in the last few weeks.
Oak Tree Animals’ Charity, based at Wetheral Shields near Carlisle, say many charities and animal welfare organisations have begun to report a significant increase in the number of animals being relinquished.
There are several reasons why this seems to be happening, they say, and almost all of them result from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Unfortunately, this is a trend that is also now being seen by Oak Tree Animals’ Charity in Cumbria who are asking people to think carefully and seek advice before getting a new pet and, if problems arise, to seek help early to prevent any unnecessary animal or owner distress.
“As the country moved into the first lockdown, demand for dogs reached an all-time high with reports of some puppies being sold for over £2,000,” explained Caroline Yon, head of animal welfare at Oak Tree.
“However, although for those either furloughed or working from home meant people had plenty of time, this was not necessarily such good news for the pets.”
“Our homes have never been so busy; home-working, home-schooling, shielding, and isolating have meant that our pets have had very little downtime. Over-excitement, stress and constant arousal results in dogs that start to exhibit unwanted behaviours, from destruction to excessive barking, to snapping and biting.
“Having owners constantly around has led some dogs to become hyper-attached and unable to cope when they have returned to work, again, resulting in problem behaviours in the home. Additionally, there is the unfortunate fact that many people have been left financially unable to support a pet in the home.”
Caroline continued: “Understandably if someone has paid over a thousand pounds for a puppy, their first thought if they need to rehome, is to try and reclaim some of their outlay. Preloved pet websites and Facebook pages have been full of such dogs, but the behaviour problems have tended to move homes with them, and this has usually resulted in them being moved on yet again.
“The team at Oak Tree are now seeing the consequences of this issue with increased requests for intakes of dogs who have already had three or four previous owners. Virtually all these dogs are reported to have behavioural problems by their current owners.”
With the current rise in relinquishment being seen by the Oak Tree team, they are continuing to try to keep pets in their loving homes with their owners and have a team on hand, able to give advice and support on training and behavioural issues.
The charity may also be able to help those owners struggling financially too through foodbanks, second-hand pet equipment sales and various support funds for neutering and one-off veterinary treatments.
“For anyone who is struggling with their pet, please contact a charity such as Oak Tree for help and advice and please try not to rehome your animals through social media as often, this causes more problems for the animal than it solves,” Caroline added.