Who will let the dogs in? New research shows welfare crisis looming for pandemic pups unless UK opens for dogs - Veterinary Practice
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Who will let the dogs in? New research shows welfare crisis looming for pandemic pups unless UK opens for dogs

Nearly one in five owners now considering rehoming their dog

New research shows that the burgeoning market
of pandemic dog owners fear they can’t give a suitable home to their pets as
lockdown restrictions ease, unless places of leisure and employment improve
their dog-friendly credentials.

The research, released this week by The Kennel
Club
as part of its Open for Dogs campaign, shows that almost a quarter (23 percent) of all owners fear that they will no longer be able to provide a suitable
home for their dog post-lockdown, with a staggering
amount – nearly one in five (17 percent) – saying they have considered
rehoming as an option. Close to two in three Brits (63 percent), both
owners and non-dog owners alike, worry about dogs bought during the pandemic
being abandoned when “normal” life resumes.

During lockdown, dogs became a vital support
line for many people – with pandemic ownership skyrocketing – and more than one
in three (36 percent) of the estimated 14 million strong UK dog owning
community now say that they are worried about what their
pet will do if they can’t go with them to the places they usually socialise and
work, once restrictions ease.

“This new research worryingly shows that if
dogs can’t go to places with their owners, and fit their lifestyle
post-pandemic, some will be left home alone for too long, or even sadly rehomed
or abandoned,” commented Bill Lambert, spokesperson for The Kennel Club. “These
consequences could be quite devastating for the nation’s dogs, who frankly
don’t deserve to be left behind after being a lifeline for so many during
lockdown.”

Away from pandemic concerns, owners – who are
also readjusting to the “new normal” – are being forced to leave dogs outside,
in the car or at home for longer periods if a place isn’t dog friendly, leading
to alarming consequences including pet theft, heat-related health concerns, and
separation anxiety. Over a fifth (21 percent) of owners admitted leaving their
dog at home for longer than they should have due to places not being dog
friendly, and 14 percent admitted leaving their dog in the car or outside on
the street whilst going into a non-dog friendly establishment or shop.

Despite being a nation of dog lovers – with
three in five of all Brits (59 percent) wanting more places to be open for
dogs, citing benefits such as making the atmosphere more friendly and being a
conversation starter after a year off socialising – this research suggests the
UK must do more to protect man’s best friend as lockdown restrictions ease.
Priorities and lifestyles are changing post-pandemic; almost all new dog owners
who bought a pup during the pandemic, a staggering 92 percent, want to see
more places open for dogs, and three quarters (72 percent) are more likely to
go to a dog-friendly establishment than one that isn’t.

Following this research, which
illustrates a number of worrying consequences for generation “pandemic puppy”,
The Kennel Club has launched its Open for Dogs campaign, urging more
businesses, establishments and workplaces to consider the benefits of being dog
friendly. The campaign provides advice, tools and resources, from downloadable
dog-friendly policies and window stickers, to top tips for both owners to take
their dogs to dog-friendly places responsibly, as well as businesses and
workplaces who want to open for dogs.

Bill added: “Hospitality, businesses and
workplaces can play a role in combatting the looming welfare crisis faced by
this pandemic pup generation by being open for dogs; helping owners to
introduce or re-introduce their pet to ‘normal’, without leaving them behind,
and preventing a legacy of separation anxiety.

“Following a year of lockdown restrictions
impacting business, dog-friendly policies can also reap economic benefits
across the board – according to our research more than one in two owners claim
they would happily stay longer and spend more if their dog was with them whilst
out socialising at a pub, café or restaurant.

“While there may have been some short-sighted
puppy buying decisions made during the pandemic, as a dog-loving nation we must
look at the bigger picture and encourage more places to welcome dogs,
capitalise on the benefits and ‘paw it back’, easing our four-legged friends
out of lockdown, opening up more widely for their re-entry to ‘normal’ life,
and celebrating their positive place within our society.

“Dogs should be a part of our lives and daily
routines as much as possible, and we hope to see the UK being as faithful to
dogs as they are, and have been, to us.”

Further information about The Kennel Club’s
Open for Dogs campaign, alongside practical advice, printable dog-friendly
policies and “Open for Dogs” window stickers for business owners, workplace
decision makers and owners, is available at the website.

Veterinary Practice

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