Poor planning puts puppies at risk of abandonment - Veterinary Practice
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Poor planning puts puppies at risk of abandonment

Almost half of new puppy buyers have not budgeted for the care of their new pets

A survey by Tailwise, a new puppy matching service connecting prospective new puppy owners with responsible breeders highlights major concerns about the ability of new puppy owners to care for their dogs in the long-term.

Key findings from the online survey of 1000 recent dog buyers in the UK include:

  • Almost half (46 percent) of the 1000 UK respondents had not planned a monthly budget before they began looking for a dog.
  • Of those who did plan a budget, the average amount planned was just £90 – around half of the average monthly cost of having a dog (based on insights from Tailwise and an average of industry sources including research from Rover and MORE TH>N we have assumed an average monthly spend of £180-£200)
  • 6 out of 10 (60 percent) respondents had not planned how they would care for their dog beyond the next 12 months and only 1 in 10 (13 percent) considered a timeframe beyond the next 1-2 years in planning how they would care for a dog.
  • Whilst 40 percent have planned day care and companionship for their dog if their circumstances change, 58 percent had only a vague plan at best in place and hadn’t budgeted for this.

The figures are particularly worrying as a third of new dog owners found that owning a puppy was more expensive (36 percent) and more time consuming (46 percent) than they imagined it would be.

One in three (29 percent) currently considering buying a dog have never owned a dog before or had one in the family. Of those who have recently bought a dog one in four had never seriously considered it before COVID-19.

Organisations such as the Dogs Trust have already raised concerns about the number of dogs they expect to be abandoned and the Tailwise survey data suggests these fears may be well founded and the numbers may in fact be even higher.

Beverley Cuddy, editor of Dogs Today and animal welfare campaigner, who recently joined Tailwise said:

“It’s so hard to budget for the future in even an average year, but COVID means we’re all into the unknown. Half of the attraction of living with a dog is they live in the moment – reminding us to love every minute, too.

“But prospective pet owners need to look ahead as the cost of a dog is much more than the purchase price. You may be locked down and possibly furloughed, which may seem a perfect time to train a puppy, but there is no NHS for dogs so you will need very good pet insurance or substantial savings for many years to come.

“Even the most logical person can suffer ‘puppy brain’ when they lock eyes with a litter. So, it’s important that potential puppy parents keep well away from unethical, profit-led breeders who will pressure them to buy. Good breeders want to be sure new families are ready to commit. They want their pups to go to forever homes – because they love them altruistically. Exposure to a profit-led breeder can result in buying the wrong dog, from the wrong person, at the wrong time. There will be heartbreak ahead in those scenarios for everyone, including the dog when hefty vets’ bills lead to impossible choices. Tailwise aims to provide a safe space where the love of dogs will always come before profit.”

Prior to COVID-19, pet trafficking was one of the most profitable illegal trades after drugs and weapons. With COVID-19 restrictions in place, it is even harder for buyers to check the legitimacy of breeders by making multiple visits to see the puppies with their mother or to see the home environment of the breeder.

Equally, the high demand for puppies has led to a surge in pet theft with double-digit increases in the number of dog thefts reported between January and July 2020, compared with the previous year reported in many regions of the UK (BBC Freedom) making it increasingly important to check the provenance of a dog.

As Sam Worthy, CEO of Tailwise comments:

“Buying a puppy was a murky business, open to exploitation before COVID and the current situation is making it so much worse. We believe the only way to really change this is to change the way the puppy buying works. By bringing more information and checks into the puppy buying process, we hope to help people to make informed choices and save dogs from rehoming and abandonment and to save people from the distress that causes.”

For those looking to get a dog, Sam Worthy, CEO of Tailwise recommends:

  1. Make a plan and have a clear budget in mind – this is a key question we ask all prospective puppy buyers on Tailwise
  2. Dogs need companionship so if you think you may have to return to work consider how you will provide this.
  3. When thinking about breeds, consider what breed is right for your lifestyle – if you are not incredibly active it makes no sense to home a Siberian Husky. Think about what your circumstances may be in five to ten years’ time and whether the breed you’re interested in is likely to be suitable for you situation not just today, but over the next decade. If you have a family will it be good with children or will you be able to cope with the level of exercise they need?

Veterinary Practice

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