Charity urges public against 'impulsive decision' to get a new pet during lockdown
The public has been urged not to make an "impulsive decision" to get a pet as new figures show a surge in interest in adopting a puppy.
The Kennel Club said that with people staying at home due to the Covid-19 lockdown, it was "unsurprising" that more were considering getting a dog, but that no-one should rush into such a move.
The call comes on the day that legislation known as Lucy's Law - banning the sale of puppies and kittens from third-party sellers - is brought into effect.
The Kennel Club said it hoped that as well as improving welfare conditions, the new rules will encourage those thinking of getting a puppy to do their research and find a responsible breeder.
It said its latest figures show that searches via its "find a puppy" tool had risen by 53% between February and March, with the biggest hike in the week before Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the lockdown.
Searches between March 16-23 were up 37% compared to the previous week, and up 84% on the same week last year.
The top three most searched-for breeds are Labradors, cocker spaniels and golden retrievers, it added.
Holly Conway, head of public affairs at the Kennel Club said: "With people staying at home, meaning they have more time on their hands and to spend with family, it's perhaps unsurprising that some are thinking about getting a puppy.
"While we would underline that now isn't the right time to bring home a puppy, or make an impulsive decision to get a pet, these figures could be a sign of more people looking to find a breeder directly in the future, which is extremely positive and what Lucy's Law aims to impose."
She added: "Preventing suffering caused by quick, careless decisions and deceptive, profit-hungry puppy farmers is what Lucy's Law is all about. The more time you spend, the more aware you will be, and the much more likely you are to bring home a happy, healthy puppy, from a responsible, caring breeder - rather than fuelling untold suffering and heartache as a result of third-party sellers hiding horrific breeding conditions."
Ms Conway said she hoped Lucy's Law would bring an end to "irresponsible dealers" and puppies being kept in "horrific" conditions.
"We hope Lucy's Law will help bring an end to this and that, as well as improving welfare conditions for puppies, it will also encourage anyone thinking of getting a puppy to really do their research, find a responsible breeder and bring home a happy, healthy new addition to the family," she said.
Under Lucy's Law, puppies and kittens can no longer be sold in England by a third-party - such as a pet shop or dealer - unless they have bred the animal.
It means that buyers planning to buy or adopt an animal under six months old must deal directly with the breeder or an animal rehoming centre.
The law is named after a Cavalier King Charles spaniel called Lucy who died in 2016 after being kept in poor conditions on a puppy farm.
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