My partner and I had always discussed getting a dog.
But as two busy journalists, it always seemed like a distant dream.
The demands of walking, regular vet visits, and exercising just didn’t seem to fit into our lifestyles — that was until the onset of the pandemic.
In January 2021, just weeks after Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a third nationwide lockdown, we welcomed Arlo into our home.
After weeks of endlessly scrolling websites looking for the perfect pup, he was finally here.
At just eight weeks old, Arlo, a Pomeranian, was just a bundle of fur with tiny, needle-like teeth that he was only too happy to nibble at you.
- READ MORE: RSPCA Brighton helps reunite dog and owner 160 miles away
Our dream had come true and although we were tired from sleepless nights filled with the sounds of little puppies crying, we were overjoyed.
That was until the reality of our lack of research came back to bite us.
It soon became apparent that Arlo was doing very poorly, which was most likely due to the poor conditions in which he was kept by the breeder and that he was separated from his mother too early.
After several trips to the emergency vets and hundreds of pounds later, we discovered he had a parasite called Giardia, which is common in small farm dogs.
Whether he would make it was in the balance.
Like many others during lockdown, my partner Henry and I had been drawn to looking online for puppies for sale.
When we saw the ad for Arlo we instantly fell in love and knew we had to have him, but after contacting the breeder, numerous red flags surfaced.
We were told we would not be able to see the puppies with their mother because coronavirus restrictions prevented us from entering the home.
The Kennel Club advises all prospective dog owners to visit the breeder’s home to see the litter and mother, and to ask questions about any health issues and socialization the dogs may have.
Although we knew immediately we had to be careful, we were drawn to the cute looking pictures and the reality that no matter the circumstances, they still needed a home.
During the lockdown, illegal breeders have been found to benefit from the demand for pandemic puppies.
The cost of dogs skyrocketed, with prices rising more than four or five times their usual value.
And despite the warnings, people, including me, continued to use social media sites to buy puppies with no information about the animal’s background.
Arlo is now a fire free and lively little dog who loves nothing more than chasing a tennis ball on Brighton beach or digging the biggest and squishiest hole in Hove Park.
And while we were incredibly lucky that Arlo got through, we would never again fall into the trap of using an exploitative system that puts animals at risk.
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