LONDON — The cost of a puppy in Britain more than doubled to almost $2,500 during the nationwide lockdown as people rushed to buy pets, with some paying more than 3,000 pounds (about $4,000) for a new dog, the BBC reported Friday.
The most popular breeds include cocker spaniels, Jack Russell terriers and cockapoos — a cavalier spaniel and poodle crossbreed.
The Dogs Trust, an animal welfare charity, said on its website that the stay-at-home order sparked a huge increase in people searching for a furry companion. It noted, however, that high demand was also providing a sinister opportunity for “cruel” illegal puppy farms and smugglers to make money. Such facilities are known for poor breeding practices and substandard living conditions.
“Through the crisis we’ve continued to see puppies being illegally imported into the U.K. and being sold via online adverts. These little puppies are often very poorly treated,” the charity’s covid-19 appeal states, calling the global health crisis a “booming business for smugglers.”
The trust estimates that the total street value of smuggled puppies saved since lockdown is almost $104,000 and that up to 40,000 dogs in the country may need help.
The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals warned that staff were being “stretched to their limit” amid the pandemic and expressed concern that with so many people now spending more time at home, dogs are likely to face behavioral issues such as separation anxiety when owners eventually return to work.
A survey conducted by the Dogs Trust found that 41 percent of owners reported their dog had displayed increased clingy behavior or following people around the house during lockdown, while more than 80 percent said their animals were whining or barking when someone was busy.