June 18, 2020

The Pandemic Puppy “Problem”

A few weeks ago, I started receiving a lot of media calls. Almost all of them were about the pandemic puppy “problem.” I think I disappointed some of them, because I don’t think there is a pandemic puppy problem. If you haven’t followed the story, it boils down to this: thousands of people who are bored and lonely during the lockdown are rushing out to buy or adopt puppies, and when the health crisis is over, all these puppies and dogs are going to be dumped in animal shelters.

Again, I don’t believe this is a real problem, certainly not in Ottawa. Might there be a handful of poorly thought out purchases or adoptions during this period? Yes. Have I seen more puppies out in the community since March? Yes. Do I think it is a phenomenon that is going to cause widespread animal welfare concerns and flood our shelter with unwanted puppies and dogs in the fall? No, I don’t think so.

Like the widespread concern about adopting animals at Christmas, I just don’t believe that it is an issue. In my experience, people make bad decisions all year round, but a good decision can be made when people are home for the holidays or because of a lockdown as much or more than at other times. The common element between Christmas and a lockdown is time available — time to prepare your home and yourself for a pet, time to integrate that pet into your home and, time to do the kind of positive interactions and training that forms a bond that ultimately makes the adoption a success. 

The Ottawa Humane Society has long encouraged anyone considering a pet to consider these questions:

  1. Have I researched the needs of pets and a particular species or breed, so that I have made a good match for myself, my family and my lifestyle?
  2. Am I ready and able, now and in the future, to make the commitment of time and resources to care for a pet for its lifetime?

Frankly, if the answer to both these questions is yes, then you are ready for a pet — even during a pandemic.

Bruce Roney
President & CEO