Huge demand for pandemic pets sees RSPCA rehome 291 dogs in South Yorkshire in 2020

Dog rehoming soared during lockdown as families spending more time at home due to the pandemic and home-working sought the companionship of a four-legged friend.

Monday, 11th October 2021, 11:56 am

New figures released today by the RSPCA reveal that 4,877 dogs were rehomed in 2020, despite the Coronavirus pandemic and lockdown. In South Yorkshire, the RSPCA rehomed 291 dogs.

RSPCA dog welfare expert Dr Samantha Gaines said: “At the beginning of lockdown we were concerned about how difficult it might be to rehome animals, especially as we had to pause all rehoming for several weeks until we were able to come up with a new rehoming model that adhered to the Government’s guidelines.

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Bailey is a 10 year-old Staffordshire bull terrier who had a bad skin condition when he came into RSPCA care. This is being managed with special baths, which would need to be continue. should he be adopted.

“Once we had approval from Defra to re-launch rehoming, we were staggered by the levels of interest we had in our animals; particularly our dogs. We saw an unprecedented level of interest in rehoming dogs from families who were spending more time at home and wanted the company of a furry friend.

“We had 68 per cent more visits to the Find A Pet section of our website between March 23 - the first day of lockdown - and December 31 compared to the previous year; and views of our ‘rehoming a dog’ information spiked by 87 per cent. Many of our centres received hundreds of applications for individual dogs and some canines were being snapped up before they’d even been advertised online.”

The charity launched virtual rehoming in order to continue rehoming animals while still sticking to the Government’s restrictions on social distancing and non-essential travel. People were encouraged to apply for pets online and staff arranged video call interviews and meet and greets to match the right homes with the right people.

Dr Gaines added: “While most of our animals were snapped up quickly, there are some who have sadly been overlooked time and time again because of their colour, breed, age or background. This ‘Adoptober’, we want to try to find homes for all of the wonderful dogs who remain with us.”

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The RSPCA rescues animals from abuse, neglect and takes them in when owners are no longer able to care for them.

As part of a rehoming drive this October - called Adoptober - the charity wants to highlight the dogs in its care and encourage people to ‘adopt instead of shop’.

Dr Gaines added: “Our advice to anyone thinking of getting a dog is to do lots of research first to ensure that you can meet the needs of a dog. They are a huge commitment and responsibility, but they’re also a wonderful addition to the family and are sure to bring you lots of joy and happiness.

“Sadly we are expecting to see more dogs coming into our care over the following months as people who are beginning to return to work find their dogs may struggle to cope at home alone, or because families cannot cope with behavioural problems or the costs of getting ‘lockdown puppies’ who are now struggling to adapt to adolescent and adult life.”