I did not buy a puppy during the pandemic. But I might be looking to get a dog in the future so I started browsing some websites. And the first thing that I felt was sticker shock. The prices left me reeling. And I don't mean the price for some Kennel Club champion, I mean any dog.
Prices have been driven up by demand for dogs as during the pandemic. And many of these buyers obviously didn't know what they were getting into. Now nearly three-quarters of pandemic dog-adopters are looking for ways to get rid of the puppy.
Talking to someone who lives nearby the other day, I was hearing of one of these situations. Apparently the new dog owner had not realised that puppies pee everywhere, and are rambunctious.
I have no idea what they were expecting. But there seems to be a chronic problem people buying the puppy expecting it to be some sort of teddy bear. The puppy listings online are full of dogs of 6 months - 1 year old, saying something like “with a heavy heart, we have to let our puppy go. I don’t have time to take care of him”. Yet wanting to recoup their costs, these buyers-remorse cases still ask 4 figure prices for the puppy they no longer want.
And in any situation of high value objects, it's also led a swift market in puppy theft, which is not surprising when a dog is now a furry little Rolex in terms of resale value.
When I was a child, it was not uncommon at church bake sale or fleamarket for someone to show up with a box of puppies or kittens that were “free to good home”. Anyone who wanted a dog, who didn't mind just getting a mutt, could ask around and have no trouble finding someone who is giving them away. Or easily go to a pound and get one. But animal shelters are also far more picky about who they will allow to take a pet.
The replies to this tweet don’t seem far off the mark.
The horror stories I’ve heard of background checks, home visits and interviews make it sound more difficult than adopting an actual baby. In the UK it’s become common for people to pay to fly over a rescue dog from Romania or Cyprus, because it’s easier (and even cheaper) than jumping through the hoops of the local shelter to get permission to adopt Pissfingers.
I’m not getting a dog just yet (though I would be a very good home!), but the idea of spending the price of a car seems crazy. I don’t know if the current situation is a result of a few decades of spay/neuter messaging, meaning that there just aren’t that many spare pets around. Which in many ways is a good thing. But conversely, it’s turned into a goldmine for shady puppy mills, which is possibly worse.