A surge in demand for dogs and cats has been reported across the world with countries such as Germany and Australia, traditionally animal lovers, speaking an inundation of calls at animal shelters by families seeking companionship during these trouble times.
According to the German Kennel Club (VDH), about 20% more dogs were purchased in 2020 than in previous years in Germany. Even before the pandemic began, one in four German households had a cat, and one in five had a dog according to Deustche Welle. Now, in times of contact restrictions and lockdowns, people are lonely and many who are without employment or reduced hours, or working from their home office have the time to look after a pet. Some animal shelters are struggling to cope up with demand.
However, such demand has its downside too.
The trade in pets is now considered the third-largest source of illegal income in the European Union after organized drug and arms trafficking. The German Animal Welfare Federation said between January and October 2020, 75 illegal pet trades were reported, involving more than 800 animals (mainly dogs) The number of unreported cases is probably much higher.
“The cute pet is just a mouse click away. But we’re talking about a living being here that you can’t take back to the store as easily as a sweater or a toy,” says Pommerening. And yet the prospect is so tempting: If inquiries at breeders or animal shelters are unsuccessful, one look at eBay Classifieds is enough for a huge selection of animals waiting for a new home.