Covid and the dog welfare crisis UK.

According to the British Medical Association, the impact of Covid-19 on people’s mental and psychological health could be significant and far reaching.  Because of this concern, the BMA are calling for more funding due to an anticipated increase in the need for additional support services across the UK.

However, it is not just people whose welfare is at risk due to the effects of the pandemic. Companion animals, too, have been affected by changes that the virus has brought about.  In this article, Holidays4Dogs looks into the impact the Covid has so far had on animal welfare, with particular focus on companion animals and in addition, considers the implication from various settings that problems might yet deepen for animals, as well as humans, in terms of health and welfare.

At the beginning of this global pandemic, people all over the world began to be concerned they may be able to contract the virus from their pets and while this myth has largely been dispelled, it did result in many households in some European countries abandoning their pets in alarming numbers.

In the UK actually, the opposite occurred, and the numbers of households adopting new pets, went up.  This was likely attributable to the furlough scheme and the fact that, vast swathes of people were working from home, therefore having more time to care for a new pet.  The downside to this phenomenon was the huge increase in the cost of purchasing puppies due to greater demand. With this, came a rise in puppy farming and unhealthy litters of puppies being offered for sale at a time when access to veterinary care was hampered.

The concern now among many welfare associations such as The Dogs Trust is that, as people begin to return to the workplace, dogs taken on during lockdown will now be given over to welfare charities who are struggling to keep afloat with a massive drop in funding and resources.

Where puppies were taken on during lockdown they were used to families being at home all day, but now find themselves left in for long periods while owners return to work and school.  This leaves many owners with dogs developing severe separation anxiety and other behaviour changes that they cannot now cope with.  The situation may well be aggravated by the fact that people themselves are struggling to cope with stress levels – anxiety about returning to work and contracting Covid, or worrying about elderly relatives, for example.

Then there are those families who have lost jobs and are struggling so much financially, it becomes untenable for them to pay for veterinary care or even food and they have no option but to let their pet go.  During lockdown and the postponing of all non-urgent veterinary care there was also concern that animals were being left too long with health conditions that might otherwise have been resolved with earlier intervention – and this has indeed, been true of human health care too.

Sadly, there will be other situations where a companion animal may suffer as a result of no veterinary care, or sheer abandonment, and since there has been no funding whatsoever for the animal rescue sector from the Government, there are very grave concerns for the overall welfare of animals in the UK.

The Dogs Trust are continuing to campaign and educate the public during these difficult times and always welcome donations to help them continue their vital work in animal welfare.  You can take a look at their webpage here to find out more about re-homing, help with behaviour, donations, adopting and more.