Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs, Claire told host Lauren Laverne that the coronavirus lockdown had resulted in a surge in people wanting to own pets. During the pandemic fewer animals have also been given up for rehoming as people have had more time to spent with their pets. At one stage Battersea Dogs and Cats Home was left with no animals to rehome.
She said: “We were getting 1,500 calls almost every day and applications onto our online rehoming portal.
“And we just didn’t have those animals. I mean, you know, there were no rescue animals in rescues at that time for a number of reasons.
“One was because we had to get them all out as quickly as we could across the country, from rescues into foster homes and into new homes as well, as lockdown was coming around for the first time because nobody actually knew what that was going to mean.”
However, Claire revealed around 10 per cent of dogs rehomed by the charity are later returned.
Often dogs are returned to the charity due to a “very genuine change in circumstances” such as a relationship breakdown, illness and death.
Pet ownership can be also be expensive and some families struggled to keep their dogs during the coronavirus pandemic after losing their jobs.
Others struggle to cope with the demands of looking after a dog.
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She added: “We’ll get people who will bring them back because they hadn’t thought it was going to wee on the carpet or chew the bottom of their door.”
Claire also said: “We’ve even had a dog come back once because it didn’t match the sofa!”
Claire Horton stepped down as the CEO of Battersea Dogs and Cats Home in October 2020.
She headed the charity for 11 years and quadrupled income and volunteer numbers.
Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs, Mrs Horton said she was firmly in the TeamDogs camp: “The answer should be, ‘oh, well, I love them both equally’, but dogs, dogs for me every time”.
You can listen to Claire Horton’s Desert Island Discs on BBC Sounds.