Sunday 05 December 2021

‘Coronavirus pets’ have served their purpose, many end up in shelters


Between one and 1.5 million people became pet owners in the Netherlands during the coronavirus pandemic but many animals have been dumped since, animal welfare organisation Sophia Vereeniging has found.

Many corona pets, as the animal welfare organisation has dubbed them, have been abondoned in the wild, while shelters told broadcaster NOS they are busier than usual.

During the coronavirus crisis many people wanted to alleviate the boredom and stress of sitting at home by getting a pet. Dogs were particularly popular because they had to be walked, giving the owner an excuse to leave the house during lockdown.

The demand created problems, such as uncontrolled breeding of pets and the import of animals from abroad, the Sophia Vereeniging said. Vets are now worried about the number of unvaccinated pups and dogs and about their behaviour because owners do not know how to educate them.

The organisation said that the root of the problem is the ‘impulse buying’ of animals without thinking of the consequences and called on owners of unruly pets to turn to them for advice.

Pet trade organisation Dibevo said the trade in dogs had been a booming business. ‘We estimate an increase of some 400,000 dogs during the pandemic at between €600 and €1,000 each. You do the maths,’ a spokesman told NOS.

Illegal trade

Animal welfare organisation House of Animals pointed the finger at auction site Marktplaats for facilitating the illegal trade in dogs and wants more supervision. Marktplaats said demand for pets had risen by 20% in the first six months of 2021.

However, since paid ads were brought in, the total number of ads for pets had declined by 43%, compared to 2019, a spokesman for the site said.

The new rule means the Dutch food and product safety authority NVWA can check sellers’ credentials.

An NVWA spokesman said the organisation ‘intervenes when large scale abuse of the rules’ is suspected. ‘But we can’t check everybody and we advise people who want to buy a dog to use their judgement.’

With the relaxation of restrictions and fewer people working from home, the organisations are expecting the problem of pet dumping to become worse in the coming months.

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