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They call it puppy love ...

Anna Webb – Broadcaster, Author, has studied natural nutrition and therapies with the College of Integrated Veterinary Therapies (CIVT). She lives in London and is owned by Prudence a Miniature Bull Terrier and Mr Binks, a re-homed English Toy Terrier.

As we ease out of lockdown, it’s not loo roll, eggs or pasta that’s in short supply, but it’s puppies!

Dog owners have been the lucky ones through lockdown being supported physically, emotionally and mentally by their four legged friends.

But the unprecedented demand for puppies has outstripped Britain’s supply, and inquiries to buy a dog are up 180% on this time last year! Creating a massive market for unscrupulous breeders, ruthlessly exploiting innocent dogs and people by maximising our ‘one-click’ impulse purchasing online.

The worry is that as many of us won’t be able to continue working from home, or those furloughed will be returning to the office and others might find it financially difficult to afford a dog long term.

Some may have underestimated the hard work and commitment a dog really is and there’s concern that hundreds of young dogs might be abandoned to rescues, already bursting at the seams.

It’s also forecast that cases of separation anxiety will be soaring in Britain’s dogs as we adjust to a new normal.

The RCVS is conducting a study not only in the UK, but also in Italy and Spain about Lockdown’s effects on our dogs, which reveals that around 37% show increased nervousness and barking.

Even if many ‘lockdown puppies’ have found their forever homes, there’s an omnipresent risk that they may face homelessness as private landlords continue to discriminate against pet tenants.

We’re lucky that Government has recently been championing animal welfare on a number of levels, not least with Lucy’s Law, which will ban third party puppy sales, and became legislation in April.

And Finns Law which protects service animals in the line of duty, along with the much anticipated FinnsLawPart2 which is set to increase sentencing for all animal cruelty and neglect cases.

In a bid to protect tenants and encourage pets for lets, Government changed its clause about pets in its ‘model tenancy agreement’ in favour of tenants with well-behaved pets in 2016.

Despite the Government’s statutory pet clause, Landlords still either misinterpret or simply issue a blanket ‘no pets’ policy.

Shockingly the National Landlords Association concurs that 55% of landlords exclude pets and a recent online survey of 985 private landlords by Cats Protection revealed that 58% excluded pets.

The devastating impact on pets losing their forever homes due to Landlords’ illogical perception is at odds with the Model tenancy agreement, which clearly states that written consent should not be delayed or withheld.

According to Mintel, 37% of under 38 year olds now own dogs, couple this with the Office of National Statistics revealing that 35% of the rental market in Britain belongs to 25-34 year olds.

There lies both a market opportunity for Landlords to embrace pets and the correct model tenancy agreement. But is also raises concerns for new owners of loved puppies who might not have received the appropriate permission to live with a dog.

Earlier this year Robert Jenkins our Housing Minister pledged further support revolving around the ‘model tenancy agreement’, which is good news!

Back in 2003 I owned a leasehold property where me and Molly (my first Miniature Bull terrier) moved back into after I’d rented it out.

Within a few hours word had spread that I had a dog. The outcome involved standing my ground and striking a deal with the ‘Freeholder’. I would sell my flat immediately and get out, providing Molly could remain with me.

We moved on. And with hindsight Molly’s name was then written into our next leasehold.

After all just like Dylan, the rescue pup, share’s a home with Larry the cat at Downing Street; Luna who lives with London’s Mayor, Sadiq Khan, and the Queen’s Corgis all prove that a house is not a home without a dog.

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