Okanagan puppy sales, pet store supplies spike amid pandemic | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Okanagan puppy sales, pet store supplies spike amid pandemic

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Patty Edwards always had a waitlist for her aussie shepherd puppies, but that list has since been expanded by several months because more people are turning to furry friends during the pandemic.

Edwards is the owner of Six Mile Creek, a Canadian Kennel Club certified breeding company of Australian shepherds, located in Falkland.

Puppy sales have been so hot during the pandemic, Edwards even had a puppy impersonator who stole her images and is using them on a fake website selling dogs, she said.

Marla Williamson, with the Kelowna Kennel Club, also said via email there's been a huge increase among breeders for puppies.

READ MORE: Animals and people rescue each other in this heartfelt docuseries

But it's buyer beware, Edwards said.

“With the fact that there are so many people looking for puppies right now, it’s been a rampage. I’ve never had someone build a whole website (to sell puppies).”

At the B.C. SPCA, animals are spending less time in the shelters during the pandemic.

“We are definitely seeing strong interest in dogs, as well as for all other animals in our care,” said SPCA communications manager Lorie Chortyk, via email.

The time animals stay in SPCA shelters before they are adopted has significantly decreased compared to last year and more than 5,000 animals have been adopted since COVID-19 began.

Puppy shelter times have been cut in half. Last year puppies spent an average of eight days in shelter care before adoption. This year, that's decreased to just four days.

“When we speak to adopters, it is clear that the isolation and anxiety they are experiencing is a big factor in seeking out a pet at this time," Chortyk said. "We know that animals offer so much comfort and companionship and this is needed more than ever in our society. The good news is that these adoptions are working out very well, and we are not seeing any increase in return rates for animals once people are out of their houses more and reconnecting with society – in fact our return rate (which is always low) has decreased.”

READ MORE: BC SPCA online adoption an imperfect step in the right direction

The demand for puppies and animal adoptions is also impacting local pet stores.

Stuart Brown co-owns Lake Country Pet with his partner Desiree Pat.

People seem to be spoiling critters more and having more time to research for pets, he said. The store specializes in exotic animals and they were seeing a lot of sales of reptiles and all the items that go with the reptile ownership when B.C. was in lockdown.

Dog food is another hot item, he said. The demand for animal starter set ups has decreased, but dog food sales has increased, he said.

They're also seeing a lot of new customers.

“We get a lot of people come in and say ‘support local,’” he said. “Sales have been increasing steadily each month, and October was actually our best month yet.”

Although the couple took over the store a year ago, making it harder to compare with the previous owner experiences, Brown thinks people are "spending more time with their animals and now that we’re entering holiday season we’re expecting (sales) to climb even higher.”

But past the pandemic, Brown is worried about what will happen to animals when life returns to normal.

“They’re not a pandemic comfort buddy, they’re a lifelong commitment,” he said.

- This story was corrected on Nov. 11 at 9 a.m. to say that puppies spend an average of four days in B.C. SPCA shelter care compared to eight days last year, not four and eight months.


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