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‘Pandemic puppies’ fill doggy daycares in New Brunswick

Click to play video: 'N.B. dog daycares busy after pandemic restrictions end'
N.B. dog daycares busy after pandemic restrictions end
WATCH: Through lockdowns and periods of working from home, many have turned to dogs to beat the loneliness. But as offices welcome back workers and travel is once again allowed, what does that mean for man’s best friend. As Travis Fortnum reports, many kennels and doggy day cares are getting more business than ever – Jul 14, 2022

Doggy daycares say so-called “pandemic puppies” are causing a business boom.

A survey conducted by Abacus Data in June of 2021 suggests three per cent of Canadians got a pet through the first year of COVID-19 lockdowns and restrictions across the country.

Many people became dog owners to stave off the loneliness of lockdowns or to fulfill a longtime dream with more flexible work conditions.

However, in the year since that survey was published, restrictions have lifted in many places and people have had to go back to work.

Whether their owners are taking advantage of loosened travel restrictions or facing a return to the office, those dogs need somewhere to go.

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That’s led to something of a business boom for places like Shantel’s Wagging Tails in Saint John, N.B.

“We’re pretty much maxed out to whatever we can handle,” says owner Shantel Beck.

Her business offers doggy daycare, boarding, training and grooming.

They stayed open through the pandemic but, with many of their regular customers among those with more time at home, they saw something of a lull.

A client takes a break at Shantel’s Wagging Tails. Travis Fortnum / Global News

“As the restrictions lifted we started operating as normal and as our clientele came back in we had new clientele join us,” says Beck.

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She says they take in about twice as many dogs a day now compared with 2019 and have a wait-list.

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The phenomenon of “pandemic puppies,” she says, definitely factored into that spike.

The downside to that, she says, is that dogs born and raised in isolation tend to suffer separation anxiety when their owner does need to be away from them.

Many also aren’t socialized well with other dogs.

“We’re seeing kind of the downside to getting a puppy during COVID,” says Beck.

Luckily for her clients, Shantel’s Wagging Tails offers training and can help socialize many dogs.

Victoria Shroff, a Vancouver-based lawyer specializing in animal law, says there have been a rash of incidents all over Canada stemming from dogs who haven’t been socialized well.

And what’s worse, she says, shelters have been filling up with pets whose owners realized they rushed into pandemic pet ownership.

“The fallout to having a pandemic pet is that people were just using a pet as a temporary comfort measure,” Shroff says.

Shroff says she was worried in 2020 when pet adoptions were on the rise that there would be ramifications and some regretful owners. Pets are a huge responsibility.

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“One of my huge concerns through all of this is the way that animals are treated like things or commodities,” she says.

She adds that, should someone really find themselves to be an unfit pet owner, they shouldn’t feel embarrassed to take the animal to a shelter where they’ll be cared for. Just don’t abandon them somewhere.

Beck hasn’t seen a side of the matter quite that dark, but says there are tears in the lobby of Shantel’s Wagging Tails on that first day an owner brings their dog in as they head to the office.

“Especially if it’s a young puppy that’s being dropped off for the first time, we get the phone call with somebody being like, ‘How are they doing? Can I get a picture? Is everything OK?’” she says.

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