The UK’s new lockdown, “lockdown 2” is generating a reasonable level of confusion for pet owners – and even the businesses that serve them – in terms of what is and is not permitted and available when the new restrictions come in.
Whilst many businesses are still waiting on clarity from the government or local councils that might never actually come, the lockdown 2 restrictions in the UK are at least not quite as uncharted territories as lockdown 1! This means that interpreting the letter and spirit of lockdown 2 rules and how they apply to pet care is somewhat easier than it was in March.
There are still a number of unknowns and as mentioned, grey areas; and to a great extent, pet businesses and individuals in the pet care industry are being left to interpret how the rules apply to their own operations on their own.
Pending any further clarity from the government then and based on the advice of various industry bodies and statements from service providers in various niches at the time of writing (3rd November 2020) this article will answer six vital questions about pet care and lockdown 2. Read on to learn more.
Yes, you are still allowed to walk your dog in lockdown, as was the case in the first lockdown too. Exercising an animal is one of the permitted reasons to be out of your home, but you should still strive to maintain social distance from others not in your immediate family (that you live with) or support bubble, and remember the guidance of “hands, face, space.”
This may mean keeping your dog on a lead if they tend to be keen to approach others, in order to avoid the need to get too close to people you shouldn’t be in contact with to retrieve them.
But dogs can still be walked in the UK’s second lockdown without a problem.
Yes, vets are open during the UK’s second lockdown. Veterinary clinics are offering a reasonably wide range of services including many that were suspended in the first lockdown (like most vaccinations and the spay and neuter of young animals) but generally aren’t offering a full range of treatments.
For instance, if your veterinary clinic usually clips your dog’s nails, or you want to book them in for a dental clean-up but they’re not in pain or having any problems with their teeth, these things will probably have to wait.
Visiting the vet in lockdown 2 will also be quite carefully managed by clinics, who will be operating at limited capacity and most of which will ask pet owners to wait in their cars until called rather than joining others in the waiting room.
Dog groomers and related business were one of the real grey areas of pet care in lockdown 1, and whether or not they could be classed as an essential business varies, and in reality, might objectively be considered to vary depending on each potential dog they’d see as clients.
Simply bathing or grooming a dog to make them look and smell nice is cosmetic, like visiting a hairdresser; but for some dogs, the need for grooming is a welfare issue, as without grooming their fur would become twisted, knotted and matted, and cause potential skin problems and even pain.
Dog groomers and their professional bodies are currently being very vocal in seeking clarity from the government and local councils regarding their status in lockdown 2.
However, pending a formal decision being made, it is reasonable to expect that dog groomers would continue to operate in some manner during lockdown 2 providing services to dogs where failing to groom them would result in welfare issues, or if grooming was needed to resolve an existing welfare issue.
Yes, boarding facilities will remain open (or permitted to open, with the ultimate decision being left to their owners). Such businesses may in some cases be integral to the abilities of key workers to continue in their own roles, much as is the case for childcare provision, and so you can expect those operating at limited capacity to prioritise such clients.
In the same way, pet sitting and walking businesses can be considered to be integral in some cases to the abilities of key workers to continue their own roles. Remember too that in lockdown 2, a broader range of people than in lockdown 1 will be working outside of the home if home-working is not possible, and so that in order for them to be able to do this, support services like walkers and sitters need to be available too.
Dog walkers can still work in lockdown 2, and pet sitting services can still be provided.
The interpretation of the lockdown 2 restrictions are down to individuals given any lack of clear direction from the government to the contrary; and how any business is able to or willing to operate can vary. This means that what any two businesses or services of the same type might offer in reality may differ, based on their own thoughts and even logistics.
A premises that is large, for instance, would be able to potentially offer more services while maintaining social distance than a smaller one.
Also, bear in mind that all businesses are likely to operate very differently from normal, and need to prioritise services differently too. This will almost certainly mean priority given based on need and welfare, and potentially based on the needs of owners, such as priority access for the pets of key workers.