Impact of Covid-19 on pets and pet owners

Covid-19 has had a devastating impact on people’s lives: loved family members lost; families separated; working routines upended; jobs lost; livelihoods threatened; and children’s education disrupted.

As the pandemic continues, the social and economic impact is becoming increasingly apparent. Among pet owners receiving universal credit we surveyed, 13 per cent said they or someone in their household had started to claim this since lockdown began (YouGov survey for Blue Cross), and reports suggest the economic fallout could leave 1.1 million more people below the poverty line, including a further 200,000 children (Institute of Public Policy Research). Our veterinary services expect to see a rise in requests for help as a result of financial hardship.

The last three months have been unlike anything we have ever experienced before as a charity. The impact of Covid-19 has been felt by every part of our organisation from our frontline services in rehoming, clinical and education to our income generation teams like retail and fundraising. The impact for us as a charity is likely to be felt for many years. Not only has Blue Cross been affected, we also know that the animal welfare sector more widely has been heavily impacted by the crisis.

- Chris Burghes, Blue Cross Chief Executive

Pets have provided much-needed solace to individuals during this time, helping them with feelings of loneliness and anxiety. But the increased level of interest in pet sales has led to deleterious consequences for the welfare of animals being bred, bought and sold.

It is clear that lockdown has had a massive impact on both the behaviour of our pets and the needs of owners in terms of trying to deal with them. In response to this, Blue Cross has developed our behaviour line in order to help as many owners and pets as possible during this difficult and unsettling time.

- Ryan Neile, Head of Behaviour Service Operations

And for those with pets with veterinary or behavioural issues, the pandemic has brought emotional challenges and difficult choices. YouGov polling for Blue Cross found 40 per cent of pet owners whose pets were euthanised during lockdown were unable to be with them at the time due to restrictions.

Our report outlines key recommendations for government, based on our research and real animal welfare sector experiences, to protect pets and their owners as the country emerges from crisis. Download our Covid-19: Pets and pet owners report below.

Write to your MP

Blue Cross has produced this report because of the increasing evidence of the impact of Covid-19 on pets and pet welfare. You can use our template letter below to let your MP know about the report and ask them to raise the issues in Parliament, or to contact the for Department Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) on your behalf. You can either attach the report with your email or provide a link where the MP can access it.

Use the link to enter your postcode to find your local MP and send them an email telling them how you feel. A template is provided but you can personalise it with your own experiences and thoughts on the pandemic and pet welfare.

Tips for writing an email to your MP:

  • Include your full address. MPs usually request a full address so they know you're definitely a constituent of theirs. Our form just takes your postcode, so be sure to add your full address to the email.
  • Be polite. Whichever way you voted at the last election, please be courteous even to those we may disagree with.
  • Personalise where possible - most MPs filter out identical messages.
  • You may receive an automatic reply to your message but this is usually just an acknowledgement of its arrival rather than the MP’s official response.
  • Allow several weeks for the MP’s reply as they are receiving a large amount of correspondence due to the pandemic and cannot reply immediately to all messages.

We would be very grateful if you could let us know when your MP responds to your letter. You can email us at [email protected] or write to Blue Cross Public Affairs, 7 Hugh Street, London SW1V 1RP. You can also find us on Twitter at @BlueCrossPA

Find your local MP now - https://members.parliament.uk/FindYourMP