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Thu, 24 September 2020

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Pandemic puppies study among research projects awarded funding by AWF

British Veterinary Association

2 min read Partner content

A look at the behaviour and motives behind why so many people have bought puppies during the Covid-19 UK lockdown is one of five desk-based research projects awarded a grant from the Animal Welfare Foundation (AWF), this month.

AWF gave five researchers between £8,000 and £11,000 for their planned work which included two projects exploring how the Covid-19 pandemic is affecting the health and welfare of our nation’s dogs, two projects on delayed euthanasia and one on the welfare impacts of different rat control methods.

Conducted by Dr Rowena Packer, a Lecturer in Companion Animal Behaviour and Welfare Science at the Royal Veterinary College, the ‘pandemic puppies’ project will be looking at the recent increase in puppy sales: who bought them, why and how puppies were purchased during UK lockdown (March-June 2020). It is hoped that the data will inform future educational messaging.

AWF received 38 submissions this year for the funding it offers annually to researchers who want to conduct animal welfare-based projects. This year, AWF asked applicants to base their ideas around the animal welfare priorities informed by a recent Delphi Study into priority animal welfare concerns.  

Commenting on the chosen projects, AWF Chair Chris Laurence said:

“We received an excellent response to our call for desk-based research and were impressed with many of the projects that were submitted.  Choosing the highest quality and most relevant submissions was a difficult task for the charity but the guidance from our Delphi prioritisation project was of considerable help.

“The high number of puppies acquired from a wide variety of sources during the pandemic has been a major concern as they may have been bred and reared in unusual circumstances or have been imported from overseas.  The lack of puppies’ socialisation may have lifelong effects on their behaviour and temperament making them more likely to need behaviour help and at greater risk of relinquishment later in life.  Many purchasers who bought their puppy without adequate research may regret doing so later when they return to work or the economic effects begin to affect their finances. To be prepared for the potential consequences we need to better understand what has occurred and how the consequences can be mitigated by advice and training to puppy owners.”


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Connecting Communities is an initiative aimed at empowering and strengthening community ties across the UK. Launched in partnership with The National Lottery, it aims to promote dialogue and support Parliamentarians working to nurture a more connected society.

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