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One of the more surprising social trends of the early pandemic was the decision taken by many in the northern hemisphere that if they were facing oblivion, they would be doing it with a tiny dog by their side. Great battalions of first-time pet owners dashed off to buy a four-legged friend to share the loneliness of isolation, and in some countries to provide a valid excuse to leave the house at all, and the price per kilo of the more popular breeds shot up to dwarf that of the rarest earth minerals.

All this caused much rejoicing in the puppy farms of Eastern Europe and led local villains to turn away from traditional markets and pivot to dognapping. It also resulted in a sharp uptick in the value of Pets at Home, the UK’s leading provider of pet-related goods and services. The company has 457 shops across the UK selling pet food and accessories, as well as offering grooming and veterinary services, and it is growing its digital presence and loyalty scheme...

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