As the coronavirus pandemic swept across the globe this spring, it left a trail of isolation and loneliness in its wake. To fill the void left behind by lockdown and unemployment, I decided to get a dog.
As it turns out, I was not the only one who thought it a great idea to get a canine friend. The rest of the Netherlands did too.
Quarantine: the perfect opportunity to get a dog
Lockdown restrictions have required people to work and stay at home while all of our regular pastimes (like drinking and traveling) are forbidden. Many have found that this is the perfect opportunity to introduce a new furry friend to the household.
Some have acquired a canine companion to fill the silence of living alone, parents as a way of distracting homebound children, others to remove tension from a relationship strained from too much interaction. People seem to have realised that the foreseeable future will hold less travel, fewer social gatherings, and a more animal-friendly lifestyle.
The result: a scramble for puppies
Animal shelters across the Netherlands are reportedly empty, and waiting lists for puppies are long. People have been refreshing Marktplaats, hoping to be first in line for a freshly posted pup like it were a Beyoncé ticket. (There was even a Reddit thread with a woman complaining about dogs being snapped up left and right in Amsterdam, asking for help in getting her hands on one.)
And if you did manage to get your hands on one, the next issue is how to raise it. Most dog schools in Amsterdam are fully booked for months.
As a non-Dutch speaking dog owner in Amsterdam, it has been impossible to find a trainer for my puppy. The only English speaking dog school in the capital is fully booked until January. At six months old, I have finally been able to teach my dog to sit (sometimes).
A global issue
The rapid increase in animal owners during the pandemic is not unique to the Netherlands. Shelters across the globe have experienced a higher demand for dogs that they have been unable to fulfill. In England and the US, there has been a shortage of puppies. In Australia, prospective dog parents have had to wait for months to rescue a dog.
The demand for dogs has gotten so extreme that the organization Lost Dogs in the UK has reported the worst ever year for dog thefts. With high demand and soaring prices, criminals are capitalizing on a newfound market.
Not all countries are having to battle the issues of empty animal shelters. On the contrary, Voice for Paws in Malaysia reported a 60% increase in dogs in need of rescue since coronavirus. People have feared contracting the virus from their pets. Some blame the financial insecurities left in the wake of the pandemic.
If you think that your dog has a questionable cough, fear not — the Dutch Health Ministry has announced that the chance of contracting coronavirus from your pet is considered to be very small.
A high demand remains for dogs in the Netherlands
So far, in the Netherlands, while less intense than six months ago, the dog-frenzy appears to have not yet subsided. At the time of writing, there are only a dozen dogs left for adoption at DOA Amsterdam, and only one of them is a puppy.
The question is, will it last? We don’t know how long the pandemic will drag out, but someday in the future, we will return to work, start traveling again, and enjoy a cold biertje at a borreltje in that gezellige style we all love so much. Will animals adopted during the pandemic be returned to shelters when they are no longer needed? Only time will tell.
Preparing for a post-lockdown world
One thing, however, is for sure: animals appropriated during lockdown will get the shock of their lives when they realize that it is not normal for their human friends to be home all day, every day.
My 6-month old puppy struggles with separation anxiety whenever I take a shower and jumps with excitement when I return from the loo. The transition will be rough on him and his fellow dogs around the world.
Adopting or buying a dog in the Netherlands
If you are finding yourself yearning for a four-legged fur baby, you need to consider whether you want to adopt or buy a new puppy. Adopting a dog in the Netherlands will cost you around €120 in adoption fees. If you are looking to adopt a dog DOAmsterdam, Ikzoekbaas, and Verhuisdieren are great places to start.
If you want to buy a puppy, you need to consider what breed you want. Depending on your choice of breed, a new dog can cost anywhere from €250 and up to several thousand euro. A great place to find breeders in the Netherlands is at houdenvanhonden.nl.
You can also find puppies for sale on Marktplaats, but it is a breeding ground for puppy mills. Always check the conditions the dogs are bred under before purchasing a puppy.
Have you found yourself longing for a new furry-friend? Or have you already given in and found one? Tell us about your experience in the comments below!
Feature Image: Berkay Gumustekin/Unsplash