Would-be dog owners have been urged to think carefully about buying a pet after new data showed over 1.2 million dogs were bought during lockdown.
As of 2021, 33% of UK households own a dog, and the rise in demand in lockdown has also fuelled an increase in the illegal puppy trade.
The Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals [SSPCA] has received 398 calls so far in 2021 regarding illegal breeders.
This is more than double the number of calls received by the SSPCA in 2020, STV News reported.
And the SSPCA warned just last month that its rescue centres were almost at capacity as it recorded a 134% increase in the number of pets being given up after lockdown purchases.
Now, Scotland’s national consumer advice service has urged Scots to consider all the responsibilities involved in owning a pet amid soaring demand.
With National Pet Month underway, Advice Direct Scotland – which runs the national service – urged Scots buying an animal to consider what type of pet will suit the owner’s lifestyle and whether they are prepared to care for the animal however long it lives.
They also highlighted the importance of considering whether owners are going to be home during the day, particularly when coronavirus restrictions allow people to return to workplaces more regularly.
The organisation has highlighted the costs involved in owning a pet, including food and bedding, and veterinary costs for both regular check-ups and emergency situations.
Avoiding puppy farms
And when it comes to buying pets, Advice Direct Scotland said would-be owners should consider whether the seller has the required license to sell animals, either as a breeder or pet shop.
Potential owners should always ensure the animal has received all its required vaccinations and has documentation, or in the case of dogs has been microchipped.
Additional care must be taken to ensure the animal does not have any health issues and has not been removed from its parent too soon.
Marjorie Gibson, director of operations at consumeradvice.scot, said: “Once you’ve decided to buy a pet there are several things that you should consider.
“This can include what type of pet will suit your lifestyle and whether you are prepared to care for the animal however long it lives.
“It’s important to also consider whether you are going to be home during the day, particularly when coronavirus restrictions allow us to return to our workplaces.
“Taking on a pet can be a big responsibility with some animals having long life spans, so it is important to consider what is involved in caring for them, such as the need to regularly walk dogs, and the cleaning of the cages and hutches of smaller animals.
“Don’t take on a pet if you are not ready for the responsibility.”