Leeds Dogs Trust braced for rise in abandoned dogs after coronavirus lockdown

Dogs Trust Leeds are urging people to prepare for life after lockdown as they reveal they are expecting an influx of unwanted pets post-pandemic.

By Rebecca Marano
Thursday, 18th June 2020, 11:15 am

Staff at the York Street centre are concerned that people who have adopted a dog during the coronavirus crisis may be unable to cope once they return to work.

This could be due to no longer having the time to care for the dog or being unable to deal with behavioural issues that may begin once the animal is left alone.

Puppies, in particular, may struggle with house training, as they will not be used to no one being at home to let them go outside.

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Rocky the Jack Russell with Zoey Price cc2 trainer at Dog Trust Leeds. Picture Tony Johnson.

Amanda Sands, Rehoming Centre Manager at Dogs Trust Leeds, said: "We are expecting to see a rise in the dogs coming to Dogs Trust once people start going back to work.

"As life gets back to normal, people may realise they don’t have time for a dog or, if dogs are suddenly left alone, they may start being naughty and then people can’t cope with their behaviour.

"If a dog has been brought into the home, and the owner has been with that dog 24/7 for months, they can't then just go out one day and leave that dog.

"The sudden change will leave them with bad anxiety problems.

Cav, a staffordshire bull terrier with handler Haley Towell at Dogs Trust Leeds. Picture Tony Johnson.

"Dogs react to anxiety in different ways but stress signs include starting to chew, trying to get out the door, pacing around the house or just shutting down.

"We are concerned people will give up their new pets because of this and we will be taking in dogs with severe anxieties."

Statistics released by The Kennel Club show a 237 per cent increase in people searching for puppies in May, compared to the same period in 2019.

In response, Dog's Trust has temporarily changed its famous slogan 'A Dog is for Life, not just for Christmas' to 'A Dog is for Life, not just for lockdown'.

Surprise the former racing greyhound with canine carer Jasmine Granger at Dogs Trust Leeds. Picture Tony Johnson

Amanda said: "Dogs are a fabulous addition to any household but they are a big commitment.

"We all need to look to the future when it comes to dogs as hopefully, they will be with you for 10 to 15 years.

"Although we want people to take a dog on, we want them to think very, very carefully and to think long term

She added: "If people have a dog, we are asking them to make sure that everything is in place for the dogs to continue to be cared for when they go back to work.

Bella the Staffordshire bull terrier with canine handler Judith Randall at Dogs Trust Leeds. Picture Tony Johnson

"Going on long two-hour walks while working from home is fantastic, but getting up at 5am to walk them before work is much less fun.

"People need to prepare the dogs just as you'd have to prepare a person or a child. You have to prepare your dog for a new way of life."

The animal welfare charity has issued guidance for dog owners during the coronavirus on its website.

Owners are advised to start gradually introducing the dogs to being alone for short periods. This can mean leaving them in another part of the house so they are not with their owner all of the time.

Over time, this can be gradually built up so they can be left alone when owners go out on short trips.

Making sure the dogs are exercised and have been fed will also help, as well as leaving with a chew, to keep them occupied.

If owners will be out for long periods, it is important to have something in place like a dog walker.

Despite the pandemic, Dogs Trust Leeds has continued to rehome dogs virtually and has found homes for some dogs with more complex needs.

Amanda said: "Our dogs still need lots of care so we've worked through the pandemic.

"The dogs have probably quite enjoyed not having so many people around as they’ve been getting lots of attention and exercise.

"The staff have done a great job making sure that they've been well cared for.

"One of the good things is that we have rehabbed the dogs that have been with us quite a long time and some of our complex dogs have managed to find a home."

Dogs Trust Leeds is currently closed to the public but people can still adopt dogs.

The centre is now matching dogs with their new homes virtually and delivering dogs contact-free.

For dogs who need more time to get to know their new family, people can now meet them at our rehoming centres by appointment.

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