Dogs really were man’s best friend during the lockdown after the Government admitted that more cats than dogs have been abandoned so far during the pandemic.
Figures from the Association of Dogs and Cats Homes, which were cited by ministers in Parliament, show that cats were far more likely to be abandoned than dogs during the lockdown.
The survey of more than 130 animal-rescue homes during the lockdown in April found 15 per cent were reporting fewer dogs being abandoned than usual, with only 8 per cent taking in more.
The association said this was a "a reassuring trend highlighting that dog owners are taking their responsibilities seriously despite the coronavirus restrictions".
However, the story was rather different for cats with a 17 per cent jump in rescue centres reporting more cats being abandoned but only 7 per cent reporting fewer cats being dumped.
A glimmer of hope was a big increase – by 35 per cent – in people wanting to re-home a dog or cat, which the association said "highlights the important role cats and dogs can play in peoples’ lives particularly at a time when they are self isolating".
Commenting on the figures in the House of Commons, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Victoria Prentis, told MPs: "We shall continue to engage with the sector to keep monitoring trends in the level of unwanted pets."
David Bowles, a trustee of the association, told The Telegraph: "We saw more cats being abandoned in May, June and July than we did in April. "Dogs, as an animal that people wanted to have during lockdown, hugely went up - and people are still keeping hold of their dogs.
"We saw a big interest in cats, but then people started to abandon those cats much more as lockdown went on."
He added: "Under lockdown people wanted to have a companion and they saw dogs as a good companion. And in early lockdown we were only allowed out once a day for exercise – and dogs provided a very good excuse for exercise."
Pet shops and vets can stay open during the pandemic as designated "essential retailers".
In April chain Pets at Home reported "exceptional levels of demand" amid the coronavirus outbreak.
In August the Dogs Trust warned that while demand for puppies has soared during the "stay at home" lockdown, up to 40,000 more stray or abandoned dogs could be in need of help if an economic downturn lies ahead.