Pandemic puppies selling for exorbitant prices as demand soars in lockdown-hit Victoria
Barb Traeger knows just how hard it has become to get a dog.
When she retired in June, she decided it was the perfect time to get a puppy.
She had owned dogs previously, she had space at her Langwarrin home in Melbourne’s outer south-east and she knew she would have the time to spend with a pet.
Ms Traeger initially looked for a Jack Russell puppy online but the cheapest puppy she could find was selling for $5,000.
“They were just way out of our price, they were very expensive,” she said.
It took many applications, but Ms Traeger was able to adopt a dog instead.
She has been enjoying training her dog Allie during Melbourne’s extended lockdowns, saying it has given her something positive to focus on.
Dogs bring laughter to homes in tough times
For teacher Kate Ellis, it was a case of just in time, when she purchased her puppy.
She organised to buy a dog before COVID-19 for her 40th birthday, but by the time she was able to pick up her Airedale puppy, Melbourne was in its first lockdown.
“It was incredible timing, I was living on my own at the time and I got this incredibly vivacious, very hilarious dog,” she said.
She said her puppy brought a lot of fun to her life during a difficult time.
Data from Melbourne councils show just how strong demand for dogs has been.
In Maribyrnong City Council in Melbourne’s west, more than 1,000 more dogs have been registered this year, compared to the same time period last year.
Hume City Council in Melbourne’s north has seen nearly 700 more dogs registered since lockdown started this year compared to the same time period last year, while the City of Stonnington in the city’s south has seen a rise of nearly 200 extra dogs being registered.
RSPCA records 26,000 applications for dogs
The RSPCA’s Tegan McPherson said the organisation has been a significant increase in applications for pets this year.
“We have seen in excess of 26,000 online applications to adopt a pet since the start of the pandemic,” she said.
She said the RSPCA has had hundreds of applications for some dogs.
“It has been really difficult for the staff as well, because obviously people are disappointed or become a bit frustrated (if they miss out on a dog) and unfortunately it is just the nature of the demand we are seeing at the moment,” she said.
Breeder says boredom is not a good reason to get a puppy
Border Collie breeder Jacqui from Gippsland said demand for her puppies had gone through the roof since lockdowns started, with a lot of enquiries coming from Melbourne.
But she said some people were not thinking through how big a decision it was to get a dog.
“You don’t just get a puppy because you are bored, you get a puppy because you have been looking for a while, you are focusing on it and you want a puppy long-term,” she said.
Jacqui is worried the state will see more dogs in shelters after lockdowns end.
She has not raised her puppy prices because of the pandemic, and said she was shocked to see some border collie puppies being sold for about double the usual price.
High prices leading to puppies being resold
The Australian Association of Pet Dog Breeders president Tracee Rushton said there had been an incredible jump in demand particularly for small, apartment-friendly dogs, and oodles — dogs that are crossed with a poodle.
Ms Rushton said registered breeders had to match market rates, to avoid creating a secondary puppy market.
“The problem is if we don’t price our puppies in accordance with the current market rate, what we have found is that we get people purchasing puppies for a cheap price, then turning around and immediately reselling those puppies for a greater amount,” she said.
“That is not what we want to see as breeders, we want to see our puppies go to a forever home.”
She said families struggling to find or afford a dog could consider adopting a breeding dog, with many retired by the age of about four, or contacting breeders to see if they are willing to negotiate on the price.
While Julie Nelson from the Master Dog Breeders and Associates said supply had become a problem during the pandemic because many Victorians usually bought dogs from interstate, but that had become difficult with border closures.