Since the lockdown began there has been a surge in the number of enquiries received by charities with regards to rehoming dogs, cats, and small animals. Argus columnist Jon Powell looks at the issue.

GEORGIE Riley, manager at the Newport branch of the Blue Cross, an animal homing and advice charity, said: "We have seen a definite surge in people wanting to rehome dogs and cats during the pandemic, with smaller animals such as guinea pigs, gerbils and degus in particular demand. There's also been a significant number of people offering to volunteer with us.

"However, one particularly pressing issue at the moment for us is that our feed supplies are getting low, so that's where we need our supporters to help most at present.

Please contact our Newport branch find out more."

Kate Carlyle, trustee at Cwmbran-based All Creatures Great and Small Animal Sanctuary said: "We have experienced an increase in people wanting to rehome an animal - particularly puppies and kittens. I believe it is linked to lockdown, with people spending more time at home and thinking it is a good time to have an animal."

Emma Wallis, volunteer at Gwent Cat's Protection said: "There is always a demand to rehome cats and kittens, and during the last few months, there's been a heightening of interest, but that may by in-part due to the fact that we are in kitten season, which always sees great demand."

Ms Carlyle said she was concerned the trend could benefit illegal dog breeders.

"We are aware that internet searches for puppies and kittens has increased by more than 100 per cent, and we are hearing stories of unscrupulous breeders hugely inflating costs for puppies," she said."

Claire Sword of the Blue Cross, added that, in order to make sure people really are serious about rehoming, all enquiries have to go through a strict process to properly understand if the animal will still be looked after properly, should someone working from home who adopts return to work.

Cats Protection also have a process in place to match the right cat with the right owner.

Emma Wallis said: "I genuinely believe from feedback that cat owners have been more appreciative of their cats during lockdown which has been isolating many people from family and friends, like my own mother who after my father having passed, has found great solace in her adopted cat."

Kate Carlyle added: "We are concerned about the impact on the animal when lives return to normal - a common reason for animals to end up in rescue centres like ours is because of the symptoms of separation anxiety e.g. destructive behaviour, and also because people no longer have the time to care for them.

"We have recently placed a post on our Facebook page: 'A Pet is for life, not just for lockdown'."