Pet Sitters International Salutes American Women Business Owners

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Women own the majority of independent pet-sitting businesses in the $3.2 billion pet-services industry.

Beth Greenberg and Pam Ahart, All Friends Pet Care

There was, and still is, a domino effect that creates opportunities for other women entering this industry. And we're even seeing more men getting involved. But overall, it is the American business women who have made significant and increasing contributions to this industry and who are providing a valuable and important service to the pet-owning public.

Pet Sitters International (PSI), the world's largest educational association for professional pet sitters, recognizes women business owners as an influential and sustaining force in the pet-services industry.

With more than 8,000 members worldwide, the North Carolina-based association reports that 84 percent of its member businesses are owned by women.

The trend, the industry and the association show no signs of slowing.

According to the Center for Women's Business Research, one in five firms with revenues of $1 million or more is woman owned.

Pet sitting may not immediately come to mind as a high-revenue business, so it's not surprising that eyebrows are raised when Beth Greenberg, PSI member and co-owner of All Friends Pet Care in Herndon, VA, tells people her pet-sitting business surpassed revenues of $1 million. She's also aware of at least three other pet-sitting companies in the Virginia area that are also at the $1 million mark.

In fact, the northern Virginia entrepreneur and her business partner Pam Ahart hit that revenue mark twice. They expect to do so for the third year in 2008.

"Pam and I knew for years that we wanted to work together, work for ourselves and work with animals; so we started the business in 1998," Greenberg said. "We've been in business for 10 years and we love it."

A slowing economy has had minimal impact on All Friends Pet Care, although Greenberg is quick to note that the company implemented a gas surcharge earlier this year. Revenues are down slightly but the gas charge is helping close the gap. Overall, their revenues have increased almost 8 percent over last year. "People cut back in other areas, but book their pet-sitting engagements left and right," says Greenberg.

David Pearsall is accustomed to the dynamics of this woman-dominated field. His company, Business Insurers of the Carolinas, underwrites the bonding and insurance policies for the majority of pet-sitter businesses in the United States. He verifies the success and influence manifested by this woman-owned industry. Pearsall says his company partners with associations because their members are likely to be more knowledgeable, take on more responsibility and seek more avenues for education.

"Our numbers indicate that these business owners take extra steps to grow and protect their businesses, versus fly-by-night pet sitters," Pearsall said. Likewise, insurance revenues supporting the industry are up about 6 percent over last year.

One reason for the sustainability is that some business owners are choosing to expand and provide additional pet-related services when needs dictate. Overnight and in-home pet care, house sitting and pet grooming are the top three related areas on the rise. Pearsall says these are savvy sitters who have the business acumen to grow and protect all aspects of their businesses.

When she founded the association in 1994, Patti Moran, president of Pet Sitters International, was following her passion for pets. Now, recognized as a leader in the pet-services industry, Moran credits the determination of thousands of women who, like herself, followed a path that turned passion into profit.

"I feel a tremendous personal pride seeing so many women achieve success in this business," says Moran. "There was, and still is, a domino effect that creates opportunities for other women entering this industry. And we're even seeing more men getting involved. But overall, it is the American business women who have made significant and increasing contributions to this industry and who are providing a valuable and important service to the pet-owning public."

About Pet Sitters International
Established in 1994, Pet Sitters International (PSI) is the world's largest educational association for professional pet sitters, representing more than 8,000 independent professional pet-sitting businesses in the United States, Canada and abroad. PSI provides members with access to affordable bonding and liability insurance and educational resources such as PSI's Accreditation Program, The WORLD of Professional Pet Sitting magazine, The Pet Owner's WORLD magazine and PSI's annual Quest convention. For more information, visit http://www.petsit.com, home of the Official Pet Sitter Locatorâ„¢ or visit the PSIStoreOnline to select from more than 2,000 pet sitter and pet owner products.

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