Department: Clinical Science and Services

Research Centres: RVC Animal Welfare Science and Ethics

Claire has been the main researcher for the Pandemic Puppies programme at RVC since 2020, helping to organise the different projects, supervise students, analyse data, contribute to writing up and present findings.

Claire gained a PhD in Molecular Genetics from UCL in 2004, followed by employment at Guy's and St. Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust as a Clinical Molecular Geneticist. Following a career break to have children, Claire began a MSc in Clinical Animal Behaviour at Edinburgh University in 2018 and started working at RVC as a Research Technician in Canine Welfare Science on the Pandemic Puppies project in 2020.

Claire works within the Pandemic Puppies research programme, with a particular focus upon:

  • A longitudinal study of Pandemic Puppies at 21, 24, 27 and 36 months of age.
  • The impact of the 'Cost-of-living crisis' upon Pandemic Puppies and their owners.
  • Pandemic Pals, exploring how acquiring a dog during the pandemic may have helped support children’s mental health.

For more information visit:

Claire also worked on RESET (Reducing Epileptic Seizures and improving Emotional state with behavioural Therapies).

For more information visit:

[1] PACKER RMA; BRAND CL; BELSHAW Z; PEGRAM CL; STEVENS KB; O'NEILL DG (2021) Characterising motivations and behaviours of UK owners who purchased puppies during the 2020 COVID-19 Pandemic. Animals11, 2500.

[2] BRAND CL; O'NEILL DG; BELSHAW Z; PEGRAM CL; STEVENS KB; PACKER RMA (2022) Pandemic Puppies: Demographic characteristics, health and early life experiences of puppies acquired during the 2020 phase of the COVID-19 pandemic in the UK. Animals 12, 629.

[3] BURNETT E; BRAND CL; O'NEILL DG; PEGRAM CL; BELSHAW Z; STEVENS KB; PACKER RMA (2022) How much is that doodle in the window? Exploring motivations and behaviours of UK owners acquiring designer crossbreed dogs (2019-2020). Canine Medicine and Genetics 9, 8.

[4] PACKER RMA; BRAND CL;  BELSHAW Z; PEGRAM CL; DALE F; STEVENS KB; O'NEILL DG (2023) Is UK Puppy Purchasing Suffering a Long COVID Effect? Ongoing Negative Impacts of the COVID-19 Pandemic upon Puppy Purchase Motivations and Behaviours in 2021. Animals 13, 2186.

[5] BRAND CL; O'NEILL DG; BELSHAW Z; DALE F; MERRITT BL; CLOVER KN; TAY M-XM; PEGRAM CL; PACKER RMA (2024) Early Life Experiences, Puppy-Purchasing Practices, and Owner Characteristics on Owner-Reported Problem Behaviours in a UK Pandemic Puppies Cohort. Animals 14, 336.

Claire helps supervise undergraduate and postgraduate students within the Pandemic Puppies project and in other areas of canine health and welfare.

Student member of the Association of Pet Behaviour Counsellors

Contributing Supporter Member of the Fellowship of Animal Behaviour Clinicians


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