Have you purchased a puppy since January 2019? If so, then the Royal Veterinary College (RVC) would like to hear from you. An important national study is taking place to explore how buying puppies has changed from pre-pandemic it current CODID-19 times. We are aware there have been major changes to buying Border Terrier puppies at this time and not all of them good, so we would encourage you to help with this research if you can.
What is the purpose of this research?
The RVC is calling for those who have purchased a puppy since January 2019 to compare how and why puppies were bought before and during the COVID-19 pandemic to help understanding changing purchasing behaviours and intentions over this time.
Many have recognised the benefits of owning a dog during the pandemic, which has led to an increase in households deciding to add a puppy to the family. Finding a healthy puppy during this time however, has not always been a simple process with the additional difficulties lockdown and other pandemic restrictions has caused. As a result, there has been a significant increase in reports of unscrupulous buyers and dealers cashing in or even scamming people with the increased demand for puppies (see our blog from earlier this year Reports of puppy selling scams on the increase).
Lockdown has also raised concerns around dog welfare, including the limited opportunities for new experiences and socialisation at an important developmental stage for puppies. The research will explore how the life and development of puppies purchased this year compared to the previous year has changed, along with identifying any vulnerabilities to health, behaviour & welfare.
By understanding how and why people buy puppies, this project hopes to learn where things go ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ in that process. This will help future owners avoid pitfalls and help target advice to owners who have experienced problems purchasing their puppy.
The research project has been funded by a grant from the Animal Welfare Foundation (AWF). You can read more information about this survey on the RVC Vetcompass website.
A message from project lead, Dr Packer
Dr Rowena Packer, Lecturer in Companion Animal Behaviour and Welfare Science at the RVC and lead of the project comments, “Since lockdown, the media has reported huge spikes in UK households buying puppies. Although a new puppy may have been a welcome relief from the pandemic for many households, unscrupulous breeders have cashed in on this increased demand, and many well-meaning owners may have inadvertently bought puppies from poor-welfare sources."
Dr Packer continues, "We want to learn more about how and why people bought puppies during lockdown, and your experiences of owning a young puppy during this unprecedented period. We want to know about both good and bad experiences, so even if you feel the puppy buying process didn’t go as well as you had hoped, you have worries, or even if you have rehomed your puppy, we would love to hear from you. We equally need vital information from owners of puppies bought before the pandemic in 2019 and early 2020, to learn what ‘normal’ puppy buying looked like in the UK."
Have you bought a puppy since 1 January 2019?
The survey is open to UK-based dog owners who acquired a puppy of any breed or crossbreed since 1 January 2019.
The puppy must have been under 16 weeks old when brought home and must also have been purchased from a breeder or private seller, rather than adopted from a formal rescue organisation or bred by themselves.
Even if the buying experience didn't go well, or if you no longer have the puppy, it is really important to take part and those purchasing last year are key to providing comparative data to this year.
How can you take part?
The survey is open until 31 December 2020 and if you, or someone you know, has purchased a puppy since 1 January 2019, then we would ask that you complete the survey by clicking the link below.