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Vets overwhelmed as number of dogs in Camden triples

Worries over unhealthy ‘puppy-farmed’ pets and ‘separation anxiety’ as owners return to work

22 July, 2021 — By Isabelle Stanley

All Dogs Matter are looking for homes for greyhounds Ringo and Rita

THE number of dogs in Camden has tripled over the lockdown leaving vets and charities deluged with work.

Ira Moss, founder of All Dogs Matter, a rescue charity in Highgate, said people had paid up to £5,000 a puppy as demand for new pets ballooned.

But the increase in paw-fall has lengthened wait-times at vets and routine appointments for vaccines and check-ups can be hard to come by.

Ms Moss said she feared this may lead to “a lot more bugs going around”.

She is worried that many of the new arrivals may have been “puppy-farmed” to cash in on the rocketing prices, increasing the chances of health problems.

“Even when people think they’ve met the mother dog, it’s a front,” said Ms Moss.

“One litter can be worth £50,000, there’s so much money in it, the puppy farmer can afford to rent a flat for that month for people to visit.”

With coronavirus restrictions lifting and more people returning to face-to-face work, Ms Moss said: “A lot of dogs have terrible separation anxiety. And now, all the dog sitters are full and all the vets are full, because there’s no infrastructure in London for triple the number of dogs.”

She added: “We urge people to think of the times when you do have to leave that dog alone: they’re a full time commitment, they do bark, they’re expensive, and you might be encouraging puppy farming, even if you think they look cute.”

Caroline Shilabeer, a committee member of the Hampstead Professional Dog Walkers Association, said the rising numbers had meant inexperienced owners were having trouble on the Heath when they took them out for walks.

She said: “When people started getting new pets, especially puppies, there were a lot more people who didn’t have much experience with dogs. There were some incidents involving puppies, new owners and a lack of control, ranging from bad dog etiquette, for example, letting a young dog run up to a dog on a lead, to fights.”

She added: “I don’t know what people will be able to do as they won’t be able to get a dog walker. It’s a recipe for disaster.”

The cat population has also burgeoned because people have been unable to access neutering services.

North London rescue charity Cats Protection, which is based in Archway, said the numbers needing new homes has spiralled.

Jen Harris, the centre manager, said: “At one point recently we had over 150 cats on our waiting list, and for a small centre with only 17 pens this is exceptionally high. Our status as an admissions hub does mean more enquiries get directed our way, but it is still like nothing I’ve seen before.”

She added: “We are currently helping a really nice lady to rehome a family of 50 cats that all came from her taking in one pregnant cat early last year and not being able to access neutering.”

Anne Richings, hospital director at the RVC Beaumont Sainsbury Animal Hospital in Royal College Street, Camden Town, said their longer waits are “primarily due to the increase in new puppies and kittens registered with us, increased demand in sick and injured pet cases and at times, a decrease in staffing levels due to social distancing and self- isolation requirements.”


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