The Scottish SPCA has warned people not to get a pet if they are “bored” amid rocketing prices.
The charity has also revealed it has just one rescue dog available across Tayside and Fife, with each canine attracting as many as a hundred applications.
Some say they are being priced out of getting an animal companion, with £500 per dog the standard minimum on websites such as Pets4Homes.
The main reason for the rising prices is lockdown causing more people to be working from home and going away for holidays.
Scottish SPCA chief superintendent, Mike Flynn, said: “The demand for dogs is incredibly high at the moment and unscrupulous breeders are taking advantage of this with these price hikes.
“These breeders can hide their identity online and, in many cases, have no concern for the welfare of the animals they are selling.
“Anyone buying a pet online must visit the seller and see the pups with their mother.
“They should be able to see the living environment they have been reared in and they should be given a copy of the animal’s veterinary records which will detail the necessary vaccinations and health checks required from birth.”
‘Please walk away and contact us’
Mr Flynn also addressed the notion that those who buy pets are always doing it a favour.
He added: “There’s often a misconception that by purchasing the animal you are ‘saving’ it.
“As hard as it may be, if you are unhappy with the condition of the puppies for sale please walk away and contact us.
“By purchasing a puppy from a low welfare breeder you are only continuing to fund the cycle of abuse and neglect.
“Please do your research before buying a dog online, otherwise you could be paying a great deal of money for a sick or poorly bred animal which could end up costing you even more in vet bills, not to mention heartbreak.”
‘People will return to work, school and socialising’
Pets have become hot property online, with Gumtree alone showing more than 800 adverts for animals within 50 miles of Dundee.
“We would also strongly discourage anyone from buying a pet online simply because they are bored or lonely during lockdown,” added Mr Flynn.
“Once the restrictions end, people will return to work, school and socialising as normal and could find that an animal may not fit into their life as easily as before.
“If you are sure that you want to give a dog a home, please consider adopting as there are loads of canine companions looking for their forever homes in our centres right now.
“Anyone with concerns about the conditions in which an animal is being kept or sold can call our confidential animal helpline on 03000 999 999.”
‘The prices are ridiculous’
A Dundee couple say they are heartbroken at not being able to afford a dog.
Pauline Yuill, 55, has fibromyalgia and also suffers with anxiety and depression. She is unable to work and her husband James, 53, cares for her at their Whitfield home.
Three years ago they had two dogs but their 11-year-old Labrador Duke died in April 2018 and German Shepherd Cheyenne, 8, passed away in July last year.
The £200 they have saved is insufficient to buy a dog.
Pauline said: “A dog would really help with my condition but we can’t afford it.
“The prices are ridiculous and it means that people desperately wanting a dog can’t get one.”
‘Any dog would do’
James insists they are not fussy about the type of dog they own.
“Any dog would do,” he said. “A dog gets me out and motivated because right now I am just sitting in the house. I’m fed up.
“When I had a dog I was out six times a day. I have had dogs all of my days and now it’s not the same.
“The price of them is scandalous. We checked the papers yesterday and they wanted £1,200.”
The couple have looked into rescuing a dog but have been dismayed by the long waiting list at the SSPCA rehoming centre in Petterden.
“To get a rescue dog from abroad requires paying a large amount of money up front to bring them over here and some of them arrive with diseases.”
Just one dog available
The Scottish SPCA says that the demand for rescue dogs is particularly high in Tayside and Fife.
A spokesperson said: “We do have a few available at the moment but if you filter by location you’ll see only one of those is located at our Angus, Fife and Tayside centre.
“Demand for animals is really high at the moment so many of the animals in our care, especially dogs, receive applications in to double or even triple figures.
“It will also depend on an individual’s circumstances as we need to take things like if they’re looking for a specific breed, age or size of dog, if they have any other pets, if there’s kids in the household etc. into consideration when viewing their application.
“We try to match every animal to the home that’s right for them, so if someone has specific things they’re looking for or need from a dog then that also might mean a longer wait until a dog that’s the right fit for their household comes in to our care.”