Demand for Pet Services Transcends Recession

Although the recession has forced consumers to scale back their discretionary spending in a number of areas, anecdotal evidence from around the country suggests that when it comes to pets, owners will continue to shell out their hard-earned dollars in spite of the tenuous state of the economy.

The Los Angeles Times recently reported that the pet industry is expected to make $51.6 billion in 2009, a 1.3% increase over the previous year, and that the number of cats and dogs as pets will increase by 2.4% to reach 169 million. The obvious beneficiaries of this growth will be the veterinary services sector and pet food producers, both of whom are anticipated to pull in billions of dollars in revenue this year. However, pet stores, pet groomers, and boarding businesses are also forecasted to do well, and it stands to reason that cat and dog training will continue to be in demand as well.

An interview with Paul Mann, founder and CEO of Fetch! Pet Care, published on the blog of Rubies in the Orchard author Lynda Resnick adds to the case for an animal career as a stave against economic downsizing. Of life as an animal trainer, Mann says, “It’s almost the perfect storm against the recession, in that it’s a home-based business. The pet industry is proven to be pretty much recession-proof. I mean, I started Fetch in 2002, when we were in another recession period. You’ve heard that people spend more on their lipstick and those things during recession periods. Well, they also spend more on their pets, because they see a direct payback to their happiness for caring for them.”

In March, New York Daily News reported that while “New Yorkers are finding all sorts of ways to save their pennies as the economy far it seems Fluffy and Fido have been spared the household budget cuts.” And although the article did not address whether New Yorkers continued to enlist the services of people who train dogs, it did say that many of the city’s high-end pet boutiques were still able to move toys and treats, as well as basic trimming and hygiene services for their clientele. The manager at one shop explained, “Times are tough, but pets come first. Your best friend comes first.”

Finally, a recent Chicago Tribune article noted that even luxury pet hotels have been able to weather the storm. In speculating on the reasons why this sector continues to flourish, American Pet Products Association President Bob Vetere said, “Pet owners are making decisions for their pets based on human feelings and emotions.” And with unemployed pet owners spending more time at home with their animals, it’s likely that they may realize behavioral problems that went unnoticed while they were working, necessitating the call to an experienced cat or dog trainer for assistance. So for now, at least, it appears that pet training careers continue to have strong employment prospects.  


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