‘Death row dogs’ overwhelm shelters as abandoned lockdown pets face being killed

Animal rescue centres are being swamped by calls to take in "death row dogs" abandoned by owners who bought animals during lockdown.

The Covid-19 pandemic led to a huge surge in people impulse buying dogs to keep them company at home.

But as lockdown restrictions ease hundreds of puppies are being resold or handed in at rescue centres.

The Daily Mail reported many rescue centres are already at capacity because of "buyer's remorse".

Vet Rory Cowlam warned: "My worry is that euthanasia will become the only option. Most rescues have a 'no-kill' policy, but once they're full, they're full.

"And it's the dogs with behavioural issues, or the ones that look a bit weird, that are less likely to be homed."

In January reports emerged of hundreds of "lockdown puppies" being resold or handed in at rescue centres, because short-sighted owners are struggling to cope with them.

Sellers have also flooded pet websites with adverts for dogs aged between six and 12 months.

Research from pet wellness experts Itch revealed nearly three-quarters of Brits surveyed who bought a "lockdown puppy" worry their pet will have separation-related issues once life returns to normal.

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The study also found that 40% of new dog owners have experienced regrets about their purchase, with one in five not realising the work involved in raising and caring for a puppy.

In early January dog owners flooded pet websites with adverts for dogs aged between six and 12 months.

Many admitted they either do not have the time or the money to look after them.

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The price of puppies rose to more than £3,000 for some breeds last year as many people started working from home or were furloughed.

Dozens of adverts have now appeared on sites such as Pets4you and Preloved as owners hope to recoup their costs.

More than 1,800 people have called the Dogs Trust over the past three months wanting to hand over dogs aged under one year old.

The charity received 114 calls on December 27 and 28 alone, including for 19 puppies under nine months old.

At the same time, the RSPCA said it was "really concerned" so many dogs were being resold and was expecting more animals to be abandoned.

Niall Lester, a co-founder of New Hope Animal Rescue centre in Kent, told the Sunday Telegraph, animals are unlikely to be adopted from rescue centres having developed behavioural issues.

He told the Mail: "Sadly I foresee a lot more euthanisations later in the year when the problems start arising from the mistakes people have made."

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