How COVID-19 has changed the Dogs that come to Battersea

30 MARCH 2021

Our guest blog from Battersea’s dog Intake team reveals the first-hand experience of how COVID-19 has impacted the dogs that come into Battersea.

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Here at Battersea’s Dog Intake department, we receive all sorts of enquiries all year round from individuals needing to give up their dogs for lots of different reasons.

Battersea has a non-selective and non-judgemental intake policy, meaning we take in any animal, regardless of behavioural or medical history, and over the years, we’ve taken dogs in for all sorts of reasons. These range from big life changes such as moving home or starting a time-consuming job, to illness of either the dog or the owner, as well as other more unexpected reasons such as dogs being too big or too hairy.

Regardless of the reason, we aim to be here for every dog, and cat, and owner. However, the effects of COVID-19 have made this a challenging time.

A Change in Cases

The most noticeable change we have seen at Battersea during the pandemic has been a change in intake cases. Now, the two most common reasons we see for bringing in a dog are financial and behavioural; the unexpected loss of jobs and homes, or a lockdown dog that wasn’t the right fit.

We have seen a significant increase in the number of individuals struggling with their dog’s behaviour, and most of these cases require urgent action. We have also taken in noticeably more puppies as a result of the increased demand for dogs during lockdown. Sadly, a large number of these puppies have come from unsuitable breeding conditions and require medical treatment once with us.

Lockdown Dogs

For many dogs, this past year of lockdowns will have been a rare opportunity to spend every waking moment with their owners — something nearly every dog dreams of! However, this has also been a challenging time with evidence of overbreeding, and key moments in dogs’ development being missed.

Puppies purchased at the start of the pandemic lockdowns in the UK will now be almost a year old. The ongoing lockdowns and restrictions have resulted in a first year unable to meet as many new people or other dogs. Sadly, as these dogs grow and start to experience more of life, it is inevitable that behavioural issues being to surface. It is likely that a large number of pandemic puppies will struggle to meet strangers, struggle to interact with other dogs, and suffer from separation anxiety when their owners start to return to work.

It will take a big commitment for owners to help their dogs through this time, and we are here for those owners, and their pets.

After Lockdown

Due to the significant increase in demand for dogs during the first lockdown, there has been widespread anticipation that the end of restrictions will result in a sudden increase in dogs needing to be rehomed. Lockdown measures have only just started to ease though, and we have not yet seen this influx of dogs.

However, with the Government’s recent COVID-19 Roadmap announced and a potential more definite end in sight, the approaching influx feels just around the corner. Only time will tell how the changing rules will impact dogs and their owners, but whatever happens, Battersea will be here, ready to help.

Learn more about how COVID-19 has impacted Battersea this past year by reading our latest report. You can also keep up to date on Battersea news right here on the website and by following our social channels, and Public Affairs Twitter feed.

The impact of COVID-19 on companion animal welfare

Battersea’s research reveals how the pandemic has affected the UK’s dogs and cats.

Read our report