Since the Covid-19 pandemic began, 3.2 million households in the United Kingdom have picked up a pet, said data from the Pet Food Manufacturers’ Association.
The association said that are now a total of 17 million pet-owning homes in the country.
The PFMA said that this surge in acquiring pets has been drive by growing interest in pets from young people as the age of more than half of new owners was between 16 to 34 years.
The association said that the motivation for many of the new pet adopters was to tackle social isolation during the pandemic. However the body has also raised concerns about the welfare of animals.
“Introducing a pet to a household in Covid times can have repercussions or create some unexpected difficulties,” said the association’s deputy chief executive, Nicole Paley.
An “unprecedented” rise in pet ownership has already been noted by UK supermarkets as they have warned that shortage of some dog and cat food products is resulting from that trend.
“We recognise retailers are experiencing unusual demand for pet food during lockdown,” said Helen Warren-Piper, general manager of Mars Petcare UK, which makes Pedigree and Whiskas.
However for some new pet owners, owning a pet has more troubles than they had anticipated prior to acquiring one.
According to more than one third of the new pet owners, they felt having a pet is like having a baby. Another one fifth of them who had children opined that they found it challenging to train their new pet.
That resulted in about 5 per cent of those who had acquired a pet during the pandemic have already given them up.
However, about three fourth of the new pet owners have said that having one had helped them with their mental health while they were struggling to cope up with the restrictions imposed during the pandemic.
One such new owner of a pet acquired during the lockdowns, was Marie Da Silva, 30 and single, of Tooting in south London, who acquired her puppy Stevie – a Schnauzer-poodle mix known as a Schnoodle – at the end of December.
“Stevie is an absolute ray of sunshine. Every morning she is so excited to see me and go on her walk,” said Marie in an interview to the BBC as she tried to explain that a small dog is ideal for her small flat.
“There is no way I could have adjusted to life with a puppy had there not been a pandemic. Luckily, I work in a dog-friendly office and the two months of lockdown have really helped me train her. However, you shouldn’t under estimate how demanding and time-consuming they can be. She’s definitely adventurous, but nothing that some training sessions can’t fix.”
For the 17 million households across the UK that now have a pet, the favourite are still dogs and cats. No new animals have been taken up by 11 per cent households in the UK. Generation Z and Millennials are driving the increase, suggested the survey by the association which included a little over 5,000 people.
(Adapted from BBC.com)