A Northamptonshire animal charity boss has called on members of the public to consider adopting a rescue dog instead of going out and buying brand new puppies.
This comes after a surge in dog ownership since the pandemic began back in March 2020.
Annie Marriott, 50, has been working at Animals In Need Northamptonshire for 22 years, alongside her husband Roy, 72, who founded the organisation 32 years ago.
Animals In Need rescues sick, injured, trapped and distressed wild and domestic animals across the county. The rescue organization is run by eight members of staff and a team of volunteers who attend animal casualties. The charity's headquarters has been at Pineham Farm, in Little Irchester, for the past 14 years - and there is also a new charity shop set to open in Lea Road, in Northampton, this year.
Annie has urged members of the public who might be looking for a new pet during lockdown to keep rescue dogs in mind.
She said: "I would say get a rescue dog, definitely. There are so many dogs in the world and not enough homes for them all. Rescue dogs are more grateful to be offered a second chance of getting a home. Some breeders, or greeders as we call them, just keep dogs as a cash point and use them to keep turning money out of them by breeding puppies.
"The bad breeders also don't produce good quality dogs, they are known to breed dogs that are ill, sick or have behaviour problems. I do think puppies are being bred and bought more at the moment because people can't visit the pounds or rescue shelters due to Covid but they still want a dog."
When Annie was told that "puppies for sale in Northampton" was one of the most Googled phrases in Northampton this week, she replied saying that it was "depressing".
The charity has also been hit hard by the effects of Covid and appealed to members of the public to help keep the local animal operation running.
Annie added: "We are always grateful for funds, we would not be here today without people's support."
The charity's rescue shelter at the farm reopens to members of the public on April 12, but dog viewings will have to be booked in advance. The charity is also set to host multiple events at the farm when lockdown lifts on June 21. For more information and to view more dogs, visit Animals In Need on Facebook or on its website.