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Article

Pandemic Puppies: Characterising Motivations and Behaviours of UK Owners Who Purchased Puppies during the 2020 COVID-19 Pandemic

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Department of Clinical Sciences and Services, The Royal Veterinary College, Hawkshead Lane, North Mymms, Hatfield, Hertfordshire AL9 7TA, UK
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EviVet Evidence-Based Veterinary Consultancy, Nottingham NG2 5HU, UK
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Department of Pathobiology and Population Sciences, The Royal Veterinary College, Hawkshead Lane, North Mymms, Hatfield, Hertfordshire AL9 7TA, UK
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Lori R. Kogan
Animals 2021, 11(9), 2500; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11092500
Received: 23 July 2021 / Revised: 19 August 2021 / Accepted: 20 August 2021 / Published: 25 August 2021
(This article belongs to the Section Companion Animals)
Widespread media reports suggest that unusually high numbers of the public purchased, or sought to purchase, puppies following the first ‘lockdown’ phase of the COVID-19 pandemic in the UK. This study aimed to explore this phenomenon by comparing the reasons why, the methods how, and by whom “Pandemic Puppies” were purchased during this period (from 23 March 2020–31 December 2020), and compare these responses with owners who purchased their dog during the same date-period in 2019. Valid responses were analysed from owners of 1148 puppies from 2019 and 4369 Pandemic Puppies. Key differences included Pandemic Puppy owners being more likely to be first-time dog owners, have children in their household, pay a deposit without seeing their puppy, collect their puppy from outside their breeders’ property, see their puppy without their littermates, and pay > £2000 for their puppy, compared with 2019 puppies. Over 1 in 10 Pandemic Puppy owners had not considered purchasing a puppy before the pandemic, while 2 in 5 felt their decision to purchase a puppy had been influenced by the pandemic, most commonly due to having more time to care for a dog. Changes in puppy purchasing during the pandemic raise a range of welfare concerns including relinquishment, behavioural problems and poor health.
Widespread media reports suggest that unusually high numbers of the public purchased, or sought to purchase, puppies following the first ‘lockdown’ phase of the COVID-19 pandemic in the UK, dubbed “Pandemic Puppies”. This study aimed to explore this phenomenon by comparing pre-purchase motivations and behaviours, and purchase behaviours of UK owners purchasing puppies aged < 16 weeks from 23 March 2020–31 December 2020 with those of owners who purchased puppies during the same date-period in 2019. An online survey was conducted during November-December 2020, from which 5517 valid responses were analysed (2019 puppies: n = 1148; 2020 ‘Pandemic Puppies’: n = 4369). Over 1 in 10 Pandemic Puppy owners had not considered purchasing a puppy before the pandemic, and 2 in 5 felt their decision to purchase a puppy had been influenced by the pandemic, most commonly by having more time to care for a dog (86.7%). Multivariable logistic regression models revealed that Pandemic Puppy owners were more likely to be first-time dog owners and have children in their household, were less likely to seek out a breeder that performed health testing on their breeding dog(s) or view their puppy in-person, and were more likely to pay a deposit without seeing their puppy. At purchase, Pandemic Puppies were more likely to be younger, delivered or collected from outside their breeders’ property, seen without their littermates, and cost > £2000 compared with 2019 puppies. Changes in puppy purchasing during the pandemic raise welfare concerns for this unique population, including relinquishment, behavioural problems and poor health. View Full-Text
Keywords: dogs; puppy; COVID-19; lockdown; welfare; human-animal interaction dogs; puppy; COVID-19; lockdown; welfare; human-animal interaction
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MDPI and ACS Style

Packer, R.M.A.; Brand, C.L.; Belshaw, Z.; Pegram, C.L.; Stevens, K.B.; O’Neill, D.G. Pandemic Puppies: Characterising Motivations and Behaviours of UK Owners Who Purchased Puppies during the 2020 COVID-19 Pandemic. Animals 2021, 11, 2500. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11092500

AMA Style

Packer RMA, Brand CL, Belshaw Z, Pegram CL, Stevens KB, O’Neill DG. Pandemic Puppies: Characterising Motivations and Behaviours of UK Owners Who Purchased Puppies during the 2020 COVID-19 Pandemic. Animals. 2021; 11(9):2500. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11092500

Chicago/Turabian Style

Packer, Rowena M. A., Claire L. Brand, Zoe Belshaw, Camilla L. Pegram, Kim B. Stevens, and Dan G. O’Neill. 2021. "Pandemic Puppies: Characterising Motivations and Behaviours of UK Owners Who Purchased Puppies during the 2020 COVID-19 Pandemic" Animals 11, no. 9: 2500. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11092500

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