Dogs bought in lockdown ‘disguised as strays’ and abandoned at rescue centres

·2-min read
Maggie, an old English sheepdog and golden retriever cross, was reported as a fake stray. (Hope Rescue/Facebook)
Maggie, an old English sheepdog and golden retriever cross, was reported as a fake stray. (Hope Rescue/Facebook)

Dogs bought during the COVID-19 lockdown are being disguised as strays so animal shelters will take them in, a charity has warned.

Hope Rescue, in south Wales, said pet owners had initially tried to sell their animals on sites like Gumtree but when this failed, some had pretended their animal was abandoned and handed them to a dog warden or rescue centre.

The charity, in Rhondda Cynon Taf, added it was receiving the highest number of dog drop-offs at its Pontyclun rescue centre in the 15 years since it had opened.

Figures from March showed UK households purchased more than 3.2 millions pets during lockdown, the BBC reported.

During the UK's government's Coronavirus continuing lockdown restrictions, when a total of 36,393 UK citizens are now reported to have lost their lives, dog walkers practice social distancing rules by standing metres apart while their pet dogs socialise in Ruskin Park, a public green space in the south London borough of Lambeth, on 22 May 2020, in London, England. (Photo by Richard Baker / In Pictures via Getty Images)
Dog walkers practice social distancing rules during the lockdown last May. (Getty Images)

Hope Rescue’s head of welfare Sara Rosser said people abandoned pets after buying them during lockdown when they realised they couldn’t care for them anymore after restrictions were eased.

An example of this was Maggie, an old English sheepdog and golden retriever cross, who was reported as a stray but Hope Rescue staff later found out the one-year-old dog had been put up for sale on Gumtree for £500.

Rosser told the BBC: "We have to take stray dogs and so fake strays are jumping the queue ahead of dogs that really are abandoned.

"It is definitely unprecedented numbers at the moment."

Rosser said five fake strays had been dropped off at the centre in the past week and it currently had a record 150 strays in total.

She added: "The rescues are full and then the vets are ringing us saying 'is there any chance you can take them because we're concerned that dog is going to be put to sleep'."

Hope Rescue warned it was currently at a “crisis point” and predicted the trend of abandoning lockdown pets would continue until 2023.

Dogs handed in post lockdown are likelier to have health or behavioural problems, and often have no information on potential issues so it is harder to rehome them.

Hope Rescue added it was forced to suspend applications to adopt pets because of the load after receiving more than 7,000 enquiries this year.

Watch: Videographer Imagines His Dogs' Lockdown Feelings

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting