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The illegal puppy trade benefits from the pet boom during Corona

George Peters / getty images

Many people feel loneliness and emptiness during the corona pandemic. That is why more and more people are getting a dog or another pet: for occupation, so that one can get out and not be so alone anymore. Whether dog or cat, rodent or goldfish, the trade can currently hardly meet the demand, according to the Federal Office for Consumer Protection and Food Safety (BVL).

Unfortunately, the high demand and ignorance of some people are being exploited. Above all, the illegal puppy trade is currently booming due to the longing for a pet, as a study shows: Sometimes twice as many puppy ads on Ebay classifieds as usual entice prospective buyers to make quick purchases from providers who do not have the best of animals in mind.

Thomas Schröder, President of the German Animal Welfare Association, says: “Animals bring joy, they give warmth and affection. Things that many are longing for right now. Nevertheless, this should not tempt you to buy an animal carelessly! ”An animal needs full attention – even after lockdown, home office and homeschooling, when bars and cafés reopen and you want to travel again, says Schröder. “They are not just a pastime in pandemic times, they are a responsibility for life.”

Dogs are particularly popular. If you don’t get one directly from the breeder, you like to stop by at animal shelters. In this country, however, they attach great importance to the fact that animals and humans also go well together. Before a dog can be adopted, the shelter employees usually make a home visit and talk to the future owners in detail. Under certain circumstances, it can also turn out that people are not yet ready for a dog.

Online puppy trade increased enormously

The German Animal Welfare Association warns that there is currently a particularly high risk that many interested parties will choose the supposedly simple and fast route via the Internet. But whoever buys an animal online often supports the illegal puppy trade – mostly without knowing it. Almost every day, the association receives calls from people who have bought dogs online and only find out afterwards that they have neither a purchase contract nor papers or that the puppy is sick.

Corona-related border closings hampered the illegal puppy trade from Eastern Europe in April 2020. In the first two weeks after the border was opened in mid-June, however, the number of puppy ads on Ebay classifieds rose by 17.4 percent, shows a study by the “Vier Pfoten” association. For trend dog breeds such as the pug and the miniature pomeranian, the ads even increased by 57.14 percent. A business that is worthwhile for puppy dealers: Currently, Ebay charges 1,500 to 3,000 euros for a Pomeranian puppy.

The pet supplies trade also generates significantly more sales

The immense demand for animals in pet shops is also not entirely unproblematic. Animal rights activists particularly criticize the “Zoo Zajac” business, in which “budgies or hamsters are currently apparently” mass-produced “over the counter and even exotic wild animals are sold to everyone”, as the German Animal Welfare Association writes in a press release. Owner Norbert Zajac confirmed to “WAZ” that sales are booming. “We last sold 84 hamsters in two days,” says Zajac in January 2021. Before Corona, there were ten to 15 animals – per week.

But good money can be made with the animals, and not just selling the animals themselves. Germans spend around 10.7 billion euros on their pets every year, according to a study by the University of Göttingen. A total of 5,700 million euros go into pet supplies for food and accessories such as leashes and toys. The pet supply chain Fressnapf expects record sales for 2020. “I expect that for the first time we will break the 2.5 billion euro mark in sales,” said Fressnapf owner Torsten Toeller to “manager magazin” in October. That would be an increase of more than 8 percent compared to the previous year.

What must be considered if you want to buy an animal

Of course, an animal can also be a strong support, especially during these difficult times. A survey by the pet portal Wamiz.de shows that 72 percent of dog owners have felt more connected to their dog since the corona pandemic. “Animals promote emotional well-being because they give unconditional attention, without judgment or criticism – no matter how we are, no matter how we look” explains Prof. Dr. Nestmann, psychologist and member of the “Human-Animal Relationship” research group at TU Dresden.

If you are thinking about getting a pet, you should inform yourself in advance about the species and breed. Also think about what such an animal means for you: How long will you leave the dog, cat or hamster alone at home as soon as you no longer work in the home office? Is your apartment big enough? Is there a person who takes care of the animal in case you ever go on vacation? Veterinarian Svenja Sander from the Federal Office for Consumer Protection and Food Safety hopes that the new pet owners are aware of their responsibility for their animal companions. Are you ready to pay for food, toys, veterinary fees and dog training for the next five to fifteen years?

Then, when you decide on a new animal, you can go to the local animal shelter or a breeder. It is important to make sure that you get a pet ID with the full vaccinations and an official sales contract. You should definitely not buy puppies over the Internet.

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