Surge of 'lockdown puppies' in Cumbria's animal rescue centres

Young Nala arrived at OakTree Animal Rescue five days ago. Credit: ITV News

The RSPCA  in Cumbria says  it's worried people who bought puppies during the lockdown are now finding it almost impossible to care for them.

The animal welfare charity blames financial hardship caused by job losses and not having enough time to look after the family pet as people return to the workplace.

Oaktree Animals' Charity, near Carlisle, is the largest independent animal charity in the county. Over the past three months, the charity has taken in a 120 dogs and cats.

Credit: ITV News

"When people were in lockdown, obviously spending a lot more time at home with their family, they thought they had more time to think about giving a pet a home.

"Now, as we're coming out of lockdown and the children are back at school and people are starting to return to the workplace, they're finding they have no time for the dog. They're struggling to cope with looking after a pet in the home."

They say the demand for rehoming the animals is high, but the pandemic is highlighting the financial cost of looking after a pet.

Becky Lowis-Eden, who works for the charity in the community, told ITV Border: "Since lockdown, we've seen a massive increase in pet owners struggling financially with lockdown.

"They're struggling to buy really basic stuff, such as pet food. We've teamed up with local food banks to provide pet owners with food parcels. Since March, we have distributed more than 1,000 parcels."

The RSPCA says online searches for puppies increased sixfold during the lockdown.  The organisation is urging people to do their homework to ensure they can commit long term to a dog. Rehoming it says, can be a stressful experience for the animal.

At the Oaktree Animals Charity, they say they're seeing an increasing demand for their services. They describe the situation as 'worrying' ad say they are expecting this demand to continue for some time.