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Gloucestershire Business News

Doggie day care demand surges in Gloucester

The lockdown puppy boom is creating a surge in demand for 'doggie day care' in Gloucester and a dramatic increase in unwanted pets at an animal shelter in Cheltenham.

Sarah Johnson, centre manager at Teckels Animal Sanctuary in Whitminster, Gloucester, said: "We have been chock-a-block the whole time and just haven't slowed down during the whole lockdown. We've been inundated with dogs and cats and we're running at maximum capacity."

Since the end of the last lockdown, the phones have been jammed with people wanting help and advice, particularly those experiencing behavioural problems with their pet.

One option, instead of giving up the dog is to place it with charity's day care and that is now fully booked.

Sarah said: "People are starting to go back to work and we're lucky that we've got that option, so dogs don't need to come into care, the owners manage it that way."

Many people found they had chosen the wrong type of dog for their lifestyle or did not factor in the high cost of vets' bills.

She said: "Our concern will be more about an increase in animals being dumped a bit later on when they puppies are older and maybe aren't quite what the owner hoped or planned for, or when the furlough stops and housing evictions begin taking place again."

Cheltenham Animal Shelter has seen a huge increase in the number of animals being brought in for care.

Nicky Spanswick, Operations Manager at Cheltenham Animal Centre, said: "When comparing a typical day in January 2021 to today, we can see a 34% increase on the total number of animals being cared for at the Shelter and 60% more dogs."

"Just under 19% of all our current dogs are younger than 2 years old. Their lives may have been affected by restrictions and lockdowns."

Pets4Homes saw 7 million pet owners searching for a four-legged friend at the peak of the puppy boom in May 2020. According to the Pet Food Manufacturers' Association, around 3.2 million households have welcomed a new pet since the start of the pandemic, leading to a 23% increase in pet ownership last year.

The Dogs Trust reported a 50% rise in pet owners wanting to hand over their dogs between May and July 2020. And according to the Battersea Covid Research Project, the long-lasting effects of the pandemic could see as many as 25,000 dogs abandoned over the next five years

Alex Bennett, Head of Marketing for pet insurance company petGuard, said: "As a nation of pet lovers, it's no wonder that so many of us looked towards the company of a cat or dog during lockdown.

"However, so many of these animals are now having to be cared for by the incredible staff at Cheltenham Animal Shelter and other re-homing centres across the country and it's important that we recognise the amazing work they do."

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