Cork dog shelter ‘full to the brim’ with pandemic puppies

The Cork Dog Action Welfare Group (DAWG) has announced that it can no longer accept dogs, as they are “full to the brim” with pandemic puppies abandoned by their owners.

The volunteer-run dog rescue charity has been overwhelmed with calls from owners who no longer want their pets and only have capacity left for emergencies.

“We’ve had to turn dogs away a few times over the years, but the difference this time is that they’re surrendering rather than strays,” said Cork DAWG volunteer Máire O’Sullivan.

We get four or five surrender calls a day, whereas we used to get maybe one every day or two.

“Even the strays that we pick up, many of them are also young dogs, which shows that they are probably pandemic dumped puppies as well,” she said.

A pet recently rescued by Cork DAWG was a one-year-old Jack Russell who was brought to the vet by his owner to be euthanized, “because he was annoying”.

“Luckily the vet refused and asked the person to give us ownership and the dog is now with us, but not all of them were so lucky,” Ms O’Sullivan said.

Like many shelters, Cork DAWG has seen a huge demand for dogs during the pandemic as people spending more time at home seek out ‘pandemic puppies’. Now, a year to 18 months later, these dogs are left in shelters (or simply abandoned as strays) with complex behavior issues.

“A lot of them have separation anxiety or haven’t been socialized with other dogs or people, so we can’t reintegrate them quickly,” Ms O’Sullivan said.

“We’re just not able to get them to people as quickly as they arrive because they need the work of behaviorists and things to make sure they’re safe to be relocated,” a- she added.

The influx of pandemic puppies being sent back to shelters came as no surprise to Cork DAWG, who had warned it would happen. However, Ms O’Sullivan said the pandemic had cut off many of their fundraising opportunities so they had no way of preparing for this wave of abandoned pets.

“We knew it was coming, but we really had no way to prepare for it because the money just wasn’t there to put away. We always tend to fend for ourselves by the skin of our teeth, but this time it’s particularly bad,” she said.

Ms O’Sullivan urged people considering rehoming their dog to try other avenues first, especially investing in training.

“You fail your dog if you don’t train it. If you love your dog, but are at wit’s end and haven’t tried a trainer, this is the obvious solution.

“Some of the wildest dogs you will encounter can, with training and positive reinforcement, become very well behaved family pets,” she said.

She also reminds people that pandemic puppies who are now a year old or 18 months old are actually rebellious teenagers, going through a behavioral phase that will pass.

“This is the hardest time in a dog’s life, if you find it difficult, know that it’s not just you and it will pass.”