Interestingly, doggie day care has become so common in some areas, that it has become "socially unacceptable" for people to leave their dogs home alone all day ("Pet Statistics"). This is true in large urban centers such as New York City and Los Angeles, which has led to a proliferation of doggie day care centers in these areas. As more pet owners become involved in every aspect of their pets' lives, it seems clear that services such as doggie day care will continue to grow and thrive. However, just about any business concerning pets seems to be on the rise today, and getting involved in the pet industry seems to be a good investment for an entrepreneur in the future, because the industry is still growing, rather than leveling out. Many other business opportunities exist.
OTHER PET BusinessES
Doggy day care may be one of the fastest growing pet businesses in the country, but there are many other businesses that are opening up for pets, and showing up in cities and towns across the nation. Some of the most popular include:
Dog Walking and Pet Sitting. For pet parents who do not want to send their pets to doggie day care, pet sitting and dog walking services are becoming increasingly popular. They help ensure the dog gets daily exercise, and that they have companionship during lengthy travels away from home. However, more pet owners are taking their pets with them on vacation, so another opportunity exists in "dog friendly" locations.
Dog Friendly Businesses. Many corporations have takes PetsMart's lead, and welcome pets into their businesses. Some major hotel chains, including Starwood, welcome pets into their rooms, and many restaurants also welcome pets. Some shopping malls are also beginning to welcome pets, and a search of "dog friendly" sites online will provide numerous links to everything from doggie parks to doggie diners. More businesses are recognizing that pet owners have money to spend, and attracting them is only good for business.
Pet Photography. Getting Fido or Fifi to sit still for a photo is a challenge to many pet owners, and yet, they want to preserve their pet's life in a photo. Pet photography is becoming increasingly popular as more people opt for formal portraits of their pets. Some want to include the entire family in the photo, while others simply want a memory of their pets. Pet photography is still in the infant stages in many areas, and it seems it will continue to grow in the future.
Dog Food and Treat Shops, or Dog Bakeries. Dog treat shops are becoming more common in many areas. Many pet owners are attracted to homemade dog treats and foods rather than the commercial products, and these shops may grow in popularity after the recent pet food scare that rocked the nation. Many of these shops offer all natural, no preservative or filler foods that attract a growing number of people who are trying to eat healthy, and want their pets to eat healthy as well.
Dog Clothing Stores. As more people treat their dogs like "little people," accessories and doggie clothing is increasingly important to them. Some owners pride themselves on dressing their dog or cat for any occasion, and many pets are surprisingly good about getting dressed up and parading around in their finery. Some areas of doggie clothing, such as booties and raingear make sense for dogs that hike with their owners, or are outside in many different types of weather. Most doggie clothing is strictly for show, however, and seems to appeal more to the owner than the dog.
Disaster Planning for Pets. As the Hurricane Katrina and World Trade Center attack indicate, disaster planning is essential for pets and communities. Many beloved pets were left behind when New Orleans was evacuated, and many pets never saw their owners again after the attacks of September 11, 2001. This area has not grown as quickly as other areas in the pet industry, and most planning is taken on my non-profit pet organizations, such as humane societies. Now, pet owners who adore their pets are creating their own disaster plans to remove pets from their homes if disaster strikes, and including family members in their plans if they are not at home and their pets must be rescued by someone else. Planning kits with tips, a checklist, and the location of local shelters could be a growing area of the pet industry, especially in areas of the country that are disaster prone. One expert recommends, "Put together a disaster kit for each of your pets. This should include food, water, bowls, medications and medical records, a first aid kit, toys, leashes and muzzles (if appropriate), and blankets or other comfort items. Photographs should be included. If you are separated, the photo will help identify them and prove they are yours" (Bevan). A service could include all of these items in a kit, ready for the owner to take home and put in a safe place.
Pooper Scoopers. Another growing area of the pet industry is pooper scoopers, who come to a home and remove animal waste, so the owner does not have to deal with it. These franchises are spreading across the country, and while they provide a convenient service for many, for people who are aging or disabled, their service is invaluable.
Pet Furniture and Accessories. Most pet owners have a variety of pet beds, pillows, and other comforting spots for pets to relax. Pet furniture, sized specifically for pets, is becoming increasingly popular as well. Couches, swings, heated mats, stairs, and even ramps for car trips are all some of the doggie furniture accessories that have become popular, along with an assortment of doggie bowls, houses, and toys.
There is something interesting to note about many of these pet-related businesses. They often appeal to the pet owner more than the pet. Many of the items that pet owners spend their money on are items their pets could certainly live without, but they appeal to the owner, rather than the pet. Pet furniture, clothing, and gourmet food all fall into this category. Savvy business owners know pet ownership is growing in America, and they know how to appeal to the emotions of pet owners, who would do just about anything to make their pets happy. That is why so many people are looking into the pet industry as a place to invest for the future. One writer notes, "The pet industry is attractive from an investment standpoint because of the growing number of families with young children and an aging baby boomer population, both of which are heavily into pet ownership" (Rudd D6). These groups also tend to have the most disposable income, and the most interest in pets for companionship and as a part of the family. Thus, pet businesses know if they appeal to these groups, their products will probably be successful and pet owners will not want to do without them.
There is another aspect of the pet business that many people do not think about, and that is the many pet relief and rescue organizations around the country. Many large-scale humane societies rescue thousands of pets a year, and adopt a large percentage of them out to pet owners. The first animal rescue organizations began to appear in the 1870s and they have grown in scope and size ever since. Today, more people are adopting dogs and cats than ever before. The American Kennel Club (AKC) reports dropping numbers of registered pedigreed dogs since 2000, as more people adopt strays from their local animal shelter or humane society ("Pet Statistics"). In addition, many of these shelters are now "no kill" shelters, which means they will not euthanize rescued animals. Today, less than half of the pets that end up in shelters will be euthanized, which is down considerably from earlier decades, when as many as 95% of the animals in shelters would not find homes ("Pets in America").
Another aspect of the pet protection business is the pet insurance industry, which is seeing phenomenal growth as more pet owners are determined to take better care of their pets. In 2006, Americans spent $200 million on pet insurance, and that is expected to grow in 2007 to $250 million ("Pet Statistics"). This is partly because more people are becoming aware of pet insurance and its advantages, and partly because a number of employers are now offering pet insurance as one of their optional health insurance benefits. Pet insurance guards against catastrophic medical costs in the case of accidents or illness, and some policies also pay at least a portion of routine vet visits (for shots and yearly example, for example). Anyone who has ever owned a pet with health problems will understand the necessity of pet insurance, especially in multi-pet homes.