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Fears over a post-covid rise in unwanted puppies

PUBLISHED: 08:07 20 August 2020 | UPDATED: 10:21 20 August 2020

Shelly Betts, 58, from North Walsham, has bred Cavalier King Charles Spaniels for 15 years and has warned that more pets could be handed to shelters as people return to work post-lockdown. Picture: Peter Betts

Shelly Betts, 58, from North Walsham, has bred Cavalier King Charles Spaniels for 15 years and has warned that more pets could be handed to shelters as people return to work post-lockdown. Picture: Peter Betts

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An experienced Norfolk dog breeder fears shelters could be hit by a wave of owners returning their pets after a spike in the number of puppies bought during lockdown.

The Kennel Club has lanched its #BePuppywise campaign providing resources and advice on how to avoid being scammed. Picture: The Kennel Club/James RobinsonThe Kennel Club has lanched its #BePuppywise campaign providing resources and advice on how to avoid being scammed. Picture: The Kennel Club/James Robinson

Shelly Betts, 58, from North Walsham, has bred Cavalier King Charles Spaniels for 15 years and has warned that more pets could be handed to shelters as people return to work post-lockdown.

It comes as dog welfare organisation the Kennel Club launched #BePuppywise, a campaign providing resources and advice on how to avoid being scammed and buy a puppy responsibly.

During lockdown, the charity said interest on its website for finding a puppy had soared, and its new data shows two in five people who bought a puppy during the pandemic did so to have a lockdown companion.

Mrs Betts said: “People are at home bored. They want the puppy now, but people do not see the whole picture and when they go back to work a lot of puppies are going to end up back in a shelter.

Shelly Betts, 58, from North Walsham, has bred Cavalier King Charles Spaniels for 15 years and has warned that more pets could be handed to shelters as people return to work post-lockdown. Picture: Peter Betts
Shelly Betts, 58, from North Walsham, has bred Cavalier King Charles Spaniels for 15 years and has warned that more pets could be handed to shelters as people return to work post-lockdown. Picture: Peter Betts

“No one is there to take care of them.”

Mrs Betts, an accredited dog breeder, said she had been shocked and worried by the number of people asking about puppies during the lockdown.

She said: “I have had more than 300 enquiries in emails and phone calls.

“I have told people that it is not responsible because it is putting families at risk. People should not be going round to breeders’ homes.

Dogs Trust research shows a spike in the price of puppies. Inculding 52% increase for for French Bulldogs. Picture: Beth Walsh (
DOGS TRUST OCTOBER 2019)Dogs Trust research shows a spike in the price of puppies. Inculding 52% increase for for French Bulldogs. Picture: Beth Walsh ( DOGS TRUST OCTOBER 2019)

“I will not be breeding again until the end of the year or next year.”

The Kennel Club said that 34pc of people who had bought dogs had paid money before seeing their puppy, while a quarter had not seen the breeding environment.

Mrs Betts said people had to be careful when buying a pet and said there were “unsavoury scammers” cashing in on people’s desires for a puppy.

Research from the Dogs Trust, which has a centre in Snetterton, shows that the asking price for five of the UK’s most sought-after breeds had shot up dramatically between March and the end of June.

English Bulldogs, for example, advertised for as much as £2,140 on average in June compared to an average of £1,637 in March - although some listings reached as high as £9,000.


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