AS we all adapted to lockdown lifestyle, many people across Ireland decided that more time at home and daily walks may be the perfect time to adopt a new pet.
The result was an increase in demand for animals, and especially dogs, in Cork and the rest of Ireland, causing concern for The Cork Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (CSPCA) and Rehoming Cork Pets.
Since March, the demand for dogs has seen a “worrying” increase, according to Helena O’Riordan from Rehoming Pets Cork.
“Everybody wanted a puppy,” she said, “we were getting emails every day and phone calls and WhatsApps.
“We have a van, and our van has signage on it, so we were being stopped as well — even in traffic — people were getting out of the car, asking if we had any dogs.
“We were very careful in our criteria for people who we did give pets to. We needed to be sure that the pet got a home for life and not just for lockdown.
“We’ve had to put up numerous posts asking people not to contact us.”
With many people choosing to adopt at a time when their typical routine is disrupted, Ms O’Riordan said there is concern for how the pet will cope with changes. Many animals can experience separation anxiety.
“It’s going to be a huge issue going forward we reckon.
“People don’t seem to be factoring it in at all, they think they are at home, so it is a good time to get a dog and yeah, it probably is but on the other hand, where are you going to be in 12 months-time?
“People should have been going out without the dog for a bit of exercise themselves or going out and sitting in the car, leaving the dog at home or a while so it gets used to being on its own.”
Rehoming Cork Pets was set up with the aim of providing animals in Cork with a second chance, with many of the dogs they take incoming from owners who can no longer care for the pet.
Unfortunately, with the recent demand for dogs has come an increase in dog theft, which was especially apparent during the summer months.
“It also drove up the price and unfortunately when the price was driven up, it puts a price on the dogs head and there was the unfortunate increase in theft,” said manager of CSPCA, Vincent Cashman.
“People didn’t do their homework and dogs weren’t microchipped when they got them and these dog thieves have scanners so they can scan the dog and if there’s no chip in it, you are putting a target on your dog.”
According to Mr Cashman, demand for dogs at Christmas has seen a slight drop with many children opting for the latest technology instead.
However, he has noted the recent increase in demand, with fears that rescue centres may see an “avalanche” of dogs next year.
“We’ve seen a huge increase in people looking for dogs, particularly dogs and that’s since lockdown. People apparently can’t walk without a dog,” he said.
“Hopefully it all works out for them but many charities, ourselves included, are waiting for an avalanche of dogs.
“We were expecting an avalanche in September when people started going back to work and school and so on and that hasn’t happened, so we are on tenterhooks all the time waiting for a lot of these dogs to come back into us.”
Typically, the CSPCA experience an influx in “Christmas dogs” in spring.
“Some people think that we would see Christmas dogs first, second week of January. If they’re cute Christmas day, they are still going to be cute three weeks later.
“We start seeing Christmas dogs from March, April time when the dog decides to redesign the inside of the house.”