Pet Care and Pet Sitting Industry Stable Despite Economic Slow Down But Some Corporate Jobs Going to the Dogs

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While few industries are completely recession proof, independent businesses in the pet care and pet-sitting industries have yet to experience a decline. In fact, some workers are opting out of the longer corporate hours look to pet care as the next step in their career paths.

Geographically we've seen some businesses struggle more than others due to competition and other local economic factors

While few industries are completely recession proof; independent businesses in the pet care and pet-sitting industries have yet to experience a decline. According to the American Pet Products Association 2007-2008 National Pet Owners Survey, 63 percent of U.S. households own a pet, which equates to 71.1 million homes. Last year, $41.2 billion was spent on pets. It is estimated that even more is being spent this year, despite a slowing economy.

Chris Sutphin, member services supervisor for Pet Sitters International (PSI), the largest educational association for pet sitters, says all signs continue to point to a stable and growing membership. As a requirement of PSI membership, business owners must have 51 percent of their businesses dedicated to pet sitting and pet care. Independent pet-sitting businesses comprise the association's 8,000 members that are located predominantly in the United States and Canada.

"Geographically we've seen some businesses struggle more than others due to competition and other local economic factors," Sutphin said. "But overall, the independent pet sitter is maintaining quite well."

Ken Prouty, PSI member and owner of Next Best Friend Pet Sitting and More in St. Louis, MO, has seen a 74 percent increase in revenue this year compared to last year.

Robyn Simnioniw, owner of Priority Pets in Colorado Springs, CO, attributes the steady demand in her business to two main factors. She's noticed that many of her clients are not eliminating vacations, but choosing to drive instead of fly. This typically lengthens vacations and results in longer pet-sitting assignments. In addition, more people in her community are using professional pet sitters for everyday tasks such as midday walks and trips to the veterinarian.

"Due to the tumultuous economy, I've noticed people working longer hours to ensure job security, says Simnioniw. "This results in people employing professional pet sitters to care for their pets during their long work days."

Some workers opting out of the longer corporate hours look to pet care as the next step in their career paths. The industry continues to benefit from the post-corporate choices of many professionals.

Pat Olson, owner of Angel Paws Pet Sitting in Olathe, KS, was working part time as a pet sitter while also working full time in database management at a health insurance company. When her position was eliminated due to corporate downsizing, she decided to go into pet sitting full time.

Olson says "After I was downsized, I decided I couldn't go back to the corporate world. I worked for a couple of years at a pet-sitting company before starting my own. I am really surprised how busy I am. Already, I am fully booked for Thanksgiving and I have a handful of bookings for Christmas."

Robert Nager, owner of Decadent Dog in Boston, MA, left a profitable sales career after finding himself mentally and physically burned out.

"The benefits of leaving the corporate world behind have been truly enormous in ways I could not have imagined. My focus was always on more money and more sales. I remember the days with endless meetings and memos about parking or ID badge procedures. Now I am making a difference in the lives of so many dogs and their families. They truly appreciate my efforts," says Nager.

In addition to nurturing their passion for pets, some post-corporate professionals are attracted to the industry due to its relatively low start-up costs. The initial investment typically includes advertising materials, insurance and membership to an educational association. For more information about pet sitting as a profession, visit PSI's Web site at http://www.petsit.com or call PSI headquarters at (336) 983-9222, ext. 1.

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 Pet Sitter's WORLD magazine, The Pet Owner's WORLD magazine and PSI's annual Quest convention. For more information, visit 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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Courtney Klein
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