Wood Green: Calls for pet help increases during pandemic

By Alex Pope
BBC News, East

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Sue and Reef the dogImage source, Wood Green
Image caption,
Sue Ketland, with her dog Reef, has worked for Wood Green for 32 years

Calls to an animal charity from people seeking help with their pets have risen during lockdown, it has said.

Wood Green, The Animal's Charity received 819 calls about dogs and cats in 2020-21, an increase of 181 on the year before.

The charity, based in Godmanchester, Cambridgeshire, has urged worried owners to seek help early.

Sue Ketland, a dog behaviour and training specialist, said it was best to nip any issues "in the bud".

Image source, Contributed
Image caption,
Glynnis said she felt "stressed" dealing with Fred's behaviour, but was happier after getting support

Wood Green said call levels were at the highest it had seen since its outreach support scheme started in 2017 and the charity was currently caring for 328 pets, 249 of which needed homes.

"Dogs are definitely in lower numbers than previous years, as they're of high value to sell rather than bring to a charity," Ms Ketland said.

She said help was available via the phone or online and home visits would begin again when lockdown rules allow.

"Our aim is to keep pets in loving homes," she said.

"We're not here to judge anybody, we want to help.

"We want to prevent the owner from having to relinquish their pet and the subsequent stress the pet has to go through.

"If we can nip it in the bud nice and early, we can save the relationship."

Image source, Wood Green
Image caption,
Border collie puppy Mabel attended a four-week course run by the charity

About 3.2 million UK households have acquired a pet since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, according to the Pet Food Manufacturers' Association, with young people driving the trend.

Wood Green said the most common reasons for calls were dogs behaving aggressively around other animals and humans, anxiety and barking.

Glynnis, from Cambridgeshire, bought chocolate Labrador, Fred, as a five-month-old puppy in October and contacted the charity in February because while on walks, the dog would "leap all over people".

"We knew he was challenging and boisterous, but as we've had three dogs before, we were confident we could sort it out [but] I didn't feel like I had any control," she said.

She said with support, "he's improved immensely".

"It's still a work in progress, but I feel like now I have the right tools and feel great about it."

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