While we have always had FAR more demand for our Doodle puppies than supply of available puppies, things have become even crazier following the COVID-19 pandemic. Our daily puppy applications tripled, and our website page views grew to almost three million a month (with about 900,000 monthly unique visitors). Before the pandemic we often received over a hundred emails a day of correspondence with puppy questions, but during the pandemic email traffic increased to more than four hundred emails a day. Incidentally part of the reason we no longer give out a phone number to the general public, is we cannot afford to pay enough staff to handle hundreds of daily calls with questions of how they can get on the deposit list.
We believe there are three primary reasons why demand for puppies has increased during the pandemic.
The stay at home orders have increased loneliness and the need for companionship. Particularly for singles or families without kids, the desire for companionship is often perfectly met by a puppy.
Many Americans are currently working from home and will be in the future. An increasing number of companies are allowing their employees to work from home. For some families, working out side the home was the primary barrier to them getting a puppy. The opportunity to work from home has sparked the desire to add a puppy to their family.
It’s estimated that more than a million puppies are illegally imported into the United States annually. Thankfully many states have cracked down on puppy mills, and many states have made it increasingly difficult for breeders to raise puppies. One of the results is that the United States does not produce enough puppies each year to meet the demand for puppies (even before the pandemic). The result has been the frightening rise of puppies illegally smuggled into the U.S. Many of these puppies come from Mexico, but China, Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam have also had increasing puppy mills illegally smuggling puppies into the United States.
The U.S. is not alone in this problem as the United Kingdom, Singapore, and several European countries have also looked for ways to crack down on illegal puppy smuggling. Many of these smuggled puppies go to “rescues” or “animal sanctuaries” where lack of restrictions and supervision allow the smuggled puppies to fly under the radar (those who watched the popular Netflix series Tiger King saw the debate about animal sanctuaries). Small breed puppies smuggled from Mexico often end up as rescues in California, Arizona and Texas in particular.
At the same time the demand for puppies was increasing during the pandemic, the approximately one million illegally smuggled pups annually was stopped by border shutdowns. The increased demand and huge decrease to supply set up the perfect storm for lack of puppies.