Animal welfare organisations have expressed their concern that pets will be abandoned once life goes back to normal post-pandemic.
According to Limerick Animal Welfare (LAW), the level of dogs being returned after Christmas was lower than usual due to continued lockdown.
Geraldine Gunning fears change is ahead.
“We do anticipate animals being given up once life goes back to normal, in September and October, we already have some surrendered.”
There has been an unprecedented rise in adoption since the pandemic began.
Limerick Animal Welfare alone rescued and rehomed a staggering 527 dogs in 2020.
Martina Quinn, from Deel Animal Rescue (DAR) has also noticed the rise in demand for dogs.
“Obviously, the concern is what will happen to all these dogs because Covid is not forever. People do say that they can now work from home, which is great, but there is a vast number of people who will have to go back to the office. This leaves dogs in a vulnerable position, and what happens then?”
“Everyone in rescue is going to absolutely dread next year. When this explosion of unwanted dogs comes, it’s not just going to be a lovely dog that needs a new home, it’s going to be a dog that’s been misunderstood for a year, if not two.”
According to Ms Quinn, people who are looking for dogs are becoming increasingly specific about what type or breed they would like.
DAR have found that they are getting requests for specific breeds and behaviours.
“A lot of dogs can’t be rehomed to families with small children because of their behaviour problems. You only say no for a very good reason and it is because the dog must match the family.”
“A lot of the time when you say we do have a lovely lurcher with great temperament, great with children, great with people and other dogs, they don’t want a lurcher. They are so selective.”
Martina Quinn said that most of the time, there is one dog that fulfils the wish list of most people that come through Deel Animal Rescue, and that is a Greyhound.
“We are so obsessed with adopting purebred dogs in Ireland. Having the perfect dog that does not shed, is good with family, good with children, good with other dogs and does not require too much exercise. Greyhounds are the perfect dog, and I cannot stress this enough.”
Although the number of dogs being adopted is rising, Ireland continues to be infamous as ‘the puppy breeding capital of Europe.’
According to the Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ISPCA) there are 73 registered Dog Breeding Establishments in Ireland.
These establishments are producing 30,000 puppies, mostly for export, every year.
Both LAW and DAR state the benefits of adopting versus buying a dog.
Geraldine Gunning explains, “People are not paying money to scrupulous puppy breeding farms where the dogs live in awful conditions. There are some reputable breeders who are licensed but these people have trebled their prices because there is such a demand during Covid.”
Gunning also highlighted the lack of space in facilities run by organisations like LAW and DAR, with each adoption giving the opportunity for more dogs to live in safety while they await their own second chance at life.
Martina Quinn said, “What people don’t realize is that having a puppy is like having a child. In the long run this is something that you might have to put up for 2/3 years.”
“When you get a rescue dog, you get the ones that are 3-5 years old. They are well-rounded; they are happy and grateful. That gratitude it makes them put their head down and not want to cause a fuss.”
“I think the reward that you have of looking at a dog that you’ve taken from somewhere that is not a really good place and giving them a home is so amazing.”
“Our society does need to up their game, we need to be more responsible, and we need to do our research before we go in search of a dog. We need to understand that when a rescue is trying to match you with a dog, it’s not because we want to get rid of the older dogs, it’s because the older dogs will suit your lifestyle more.”