Santa Clarita, Calif., May 6, 2015—They parent alone when their spouses are deployed. They move hundreds or thousands of miles away to unfamiliar locations. They postpone or give up their careers. May 8, 2015 is “Military Spouse Appreciation Day. ”In observance of this special day, Animal Behavior College (ABC) is celebrating all military spouses, including the school’s 2,550 military spouse graduates.
“Animal Behavior College appreciates military spouses for their sacrifices and dedication to freedoms we often take for granted,” said Steven Appelbaum, president and CEO of Animal Behavior College. “Military spouses face tremendous challenges such as maintaining steady employment despite frequent relocations. Animal Behavior College’s core programs are portable and ideal for spouses interested in pursuing a career in the lucrative and viable pet industry.”
In a study by the Department of Defense Office of Community Outreach, 26 percent of military spouses are unemployed.
To some, the idea of pursuing a career in the pet services industry seems implausible. However, pet ownership in the U.S. continues to increase. In fact, 65 percent of U.S. households own a pet, which equates to 79.7 million homes, according to the 2015-2016 American Pet Products Association (APPA) National Pet Owners Survey. Pets today are living longer, eating healthier and receiving more services from groomers, veterinarians, pet-sitters and trainers. The APPA estimates that Americans will spend $60.59 billion in 2015 on their pets for food, veterinary care, supplies and over-the-counter medicine, pet grooming and boarding and pet purchases combined.
For military spouses who are passionate about animals, the pet industry offers an array of career choices that are portable and sustainable doing what they truly love:
“Being married to the military [Army] makes your life jump around,” said Jessica Lynn Allen, a 2014 graduate of Animal Behavior College’s Grooming Instruction Program. “I didn’t have skills that were portable or that allowed me to find a job wherever we moved. I tried going to college to get my degree, and it never seemed to work out because scheduling was impossible. Now that I’m a certified ABC pet groomer, I can take more courses to enhance my skills doing what I truly love.”
Jessica recently relocated to Spartanburg, South Carolina from Washington State. She is re-building her once flourishing pet grooming business for dogs with special needs.
There is an estimated 80,000 to 120,000 pet groomers in the U.S., which also includes bathers and assistants, according to PetGroomer.com. On any given day, there are approximately 2,500 job openings for grooming professionals in the U.S. Jessica and military spouses like her have numerous opportunities to find employment and apply their newly honed vocational skills to meet their family’s financial obligations.
￼Tonia Colón is a client care coordinator at Blue Pearl Veterinary Partners, an emergency veterinary services ￼and specialty medicines hospital, located in Virginia Beach, Virginia. She graduated in August and earned certification from ABC’s Veterinary Assistant Program and is currently training to assist in the ￼emergency room.
￼“I have always felt a special connection with animals,” Tonia said. It’s the reason I came into the field—to help animals get the care they need to live a happy, long and healthy life.”
￼Tonia’s husband is a recruiter for the United States Navy and recently received orders to relocate to the San ￼Francisco Bay area in January of 2016. Although she will miss working at the hospital, Tonia is optimistic about the move.
￼“I look forward to working for another emergency veterinary hospital,” she said. “My goal is to always keep ￼myself open to the many opportunities in the veterinarian field. Knowing I made an animal feel much better makes my day every day.”
There are approximately 26,000 Animal hospitals and clinics in the United States and the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 10 percent growth for the veterinary industry in the next 10 years.
￼For Kirsten James, it was time to make a career change. The former logistics analyst for a supply company in San Diego decided to become an ABC Certified Professional Dog Trainer (ABCDT) and graduated from the ￼Dog Obedience Program in June of 2014.
“I have always loved working with dogs,” Kirsten said. “It was important to have a career that I enjoy and that allowed flexibility and time to volunteer at a shelter.”
Aside from working as a dog trainer at Petco, Kirsten volunteers as a canine companion at the San Diego Humane Society & SPCA’s Oceanside campus. Last fall, she established Oceanside campus’s volunteer dog- training program to train shelter dogs to increase their chances for adoption.
“I honestly don’t think I could ever do enough,” she said.
With more than 77 million dogs and 85 million cats owned in the United States, certified dog trainers like Kristen have many employment opportunities no matter where they move.
In addition to the core program certifications, ABC offers Continuing Education Programs (CEPs) on relevant topics, including, cat management and training, pet nutrition, pet massage, pet sitting and dog walking, training shelter dogs and the art of selling and teaching private lessons. These programs prepare military spouses by combining a comprehensive education and practical experience in an open-enrollment format that is online, flexible and convenient.
Through the Military Spouse Career Advancement Accounts (MYCAA) program, military spouses may qualify for financial assistance. To learn more, call 800-795-3294. To become a dog trainer or to learn more about ABC programs, visit the website at www.AnimalBehaviorCollege.com/info.
About Animal Behavior College
To date, ABC has enrolled nearly 4,900 military spouses and graduated more than 2,550. The school prepares students for professions as certified dog trainers, certified veterinary assistants and certified pet groomers. These vocations are viable, portable careers in the $60.59 billion pet industry.