Teleworking, confinement, lack of social contacts… so many apparently good reasons to adopt a dog and feel less alone. But after an adoption boom in Luxembourg during the pandemic, the other side of the coin is starting to appear.
Over the past six months, the Luxembourg City municipality has registered almost as many new dogs as it usually does for a whole year.
However, the decision to adopt a dog should be thought of as a long-term one and not just as a hobby during the pandemic.
An explosive increase in demand
The wait times at legitimate breeders are currently incredibly long. Monique Bach, who has been raising dogs for 30 years, said she receives phone calls “every day” from people asking for dogs “without realizing the responsibility that this represents.” Many feel “lonely” and automatically assume that a pet would be an ideal solution to this problem. However, more often than not, future owners seem oblivious to the fact that they will still need to take care of their pets after the pandemic.
People need to educate themselves and make sure they don’t talk to bad guys. To avoid this, it is possible to contact the Fédération cynologique luxembourgeoise (FCL) which can provide them with the contact details of officially approved breeders.
Dog trainers are also seeing an increase in registrations. Anne Barère is a certified dog trainer and emphasizes how important it was that the dog school she works in can always remain open during the pandemic because of her capacity. Barère explains that in particular, the school placed an emphasis on “socialization” so that dogs learn to be in contact with other people and other dogs. This skill has often been overlooked during the pandemic, she says, due to the closure of most dog schools across the country.
Stricter selection criteria for owners
German media are reporting that more and more dogs, which were adopted as a kind of “compensation” during the pandemic, are being brought back to shelters. At the Gasperich animal shelter, the phenomenon is still limited for the moment, but we are nevertheless preparing for a possible boom.
Since the pandemic, they have noticed that people sometimes have a different attitude and, for example, ask for a dog to ‘pass the time’. Liliane Ferron, vice-president of the National League for Animal Welfare, says she hopes those who have recently adopted a dog have given it some thought. While there is no wave of returns yet, Ferron believes “it’s going to get out of hand at some point.”
This is also one of the reasons shelters have become “even more stringent” when it comes to choosing an owner.
Illegal puppy trade
Strong demand has also increased the illegal puppy trade. Véronique Jaeger is a veterinarian and warns against the actions of unscrupulous breeders. Puppies are said to be “produced” and transported under appalling conditions.
Dr Jaeger explains that she has noticed a significant increase in the number of people adopting puppies. Often the passport is not from the country the dog was adopted from and the puppies have diarrhea, are malnourished, or walk strangely because they have been kept in a cage. “That just wasn’t the case a year ago,” says the vet.
Adopting a dog should be a carefully considered decision. You should not underestimate the time and attention that an animal needs and the costs involved in caring for an animal. A dog is not only there to keep you company during the pandemic, it will also need to be cared for afterwards.
The full report in Luxembourgish: