Careers in Animal Care

Updated: Jul 28, 2020

Pet Care & Ownership Statistics

According to The American Pet Products Association, (APPA) in 2019, the Pet Industry expenditures are 75.38 BILLION. It has been going up 3-4 billion every year since 1994.

How important animals are in modern life can be seen through the dramatically rising statistics on pet ownership in the U.S. It has more than tripled from the 1970s when approximately 67 million households had pets. According to the United States Humane Society (USHS), in 2012 there were 164 million owned pets.

According to the APA in 2019, over 67% of American households include at least one pet. Psychology Today reports that in 2019, there were 78 million owned dogs and 86 million owned cats. Other sources cite higher numbers.

According to a PBS Nova episode, first aired in 2011, “Dogs Decoded,” the worldwide statistics of pet ownership are dramatic – there are more pets than there are children. Given today’s high cost, emotionally and financially, of raising children, pets may be filling some of the needs to care for, love, and be loved by a living being.

Dr. Froma Walsh, writing, about the Human-Animal Bond, in the journal Family Processing, discusses how much pets are integrated into family life in America. Walsh summarizes a survey by Wells & Perrine: The vast majority of pet owners regard their pets as their friends (95%) and/or family members (87%). Dogs and cats are the most common, followed by horses and birds. America’s cats and dogs are a pampered lot: all survey respondents reported that they give their pets a holiday present; 87% include their pets in holiday celebrations; 65% sing or dance for their pets. 53% take time off work to care for a sick pet; and 44% take their pets to work, boosting morale and productivity.

One way to view a culture’s values is to see where it spends its money. Spending on pets is at an all-time high, according to Bob Vetere, president, and CEO of the American Pet Products Association (APPA). On their website he announced overall spending in the pet industry for 2019 of more than $75 billion. Continuing to demonstrate its resilience, the pet industry is positioned positively once again, as this year’s annual comprehensive spending and data report.

A nationwide Associated Press poll on how devoted pet owners are, asked respondents, “If you had to choose, between your significant other and your pet, who would you choose?’’ Fourteen percent admitted they would choose their pet.

A new trend among some of the more innovative employers is to allow employees to bring their dog to work. Several companies such as Google, AOL, Proctor and Gamble's Pet Care Division IAMS, allow animals in the workplace or in a kennel connected to the workplace. There are many far-reaching benefits of allowing this, such as lower worker turnover, and more productive and satisfied employees, according to the APPMA, the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association:

A 2004 American Pet Products Manufacturers Association survey of pets in the workplace showed that seventy-three percent of those surveyed believe having pets in the workplace creates a more productive environment; 27 % believe they reduce absenteeism, 100% say they relax employees; 73% believe pets increase creativity of employees, 96% believe pets create a more positive environment than not having them. Employment in the Pet Industry

The more revenue the pet industry continues to generate, the more jobs there are for the taking. Jobs in the pet industry are expected to grow by 11% through 2024, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Employment in the pet industry, which has one of the lowest rates of unemployment, is also on the rise. One of the largest companies, PetSmart, hires 53,000 employees in 1,352 stores in the US and Canada, according to the company website. To put that in perspective, this is more than the TSA, the airport Transit Security Administration, which has 50,000 employees.

According to the job search site, Monster they list the following stats:

Pet Retail Jobs

"Leashes, chew toys, and catnip aside, every pet owner knows the one thing pets love most is their food—and the numbers prove it. The majority of the money pet owners spent on their furry friends last year went toward food, accounting for $28.23 billion of total pet sales, according to the APPA survey.

You can find jobs as product specialists, sales representatives, and more at numerous pet food companies, such as Blue Buffalo, Purina, and others.

Additionally, retail pet chains like Pet Supplies Plus, PetSmart, and PetCo, are hiring for retail associates."

Veterinary Jobs

"If you see yourself as more the Dr. Dolittle type, diagnosing and treating medical conditions and diseases of pets and livestock, jobs for veterinarians and veterinary technicians bode well for the future. Last year, pet owners spent a combined $30.66 billion on vet care and medical supplies, according to the APPA survey.

To be a veterinarian, you’ll need a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DCM) degree and a state license first, but then you shouldn’t have much trouble finding work, as jobs for vets are projected to grow 9% through 2024, per BLS data. And the pay is pretty swell, too, with the yearly average take-home at $88,490.

Meanwhile, the path to become a veterinary technician—or technologist—is a bit faster, as technologists need a four-year bachelor’s degree, and technicians only need a two-year associate degree. Jobs are expected to grow at a very fast rate, too—19% through 2024, according to BLS data —and the average yearly pay is $31,800.

Animal Care Jobs

"Taking care of your pet can be hard work—they’re basically your children, after all—and sometimes pet parents need assistance. Last year, pet owners spent $5.76 billion on pet services like grooming and boarding, according to the APPA survey. No surprise, then, that jobs in the pet service industry are on the rise, and projected to grow by 11% through 2024, according to BLS data.

People who work in these service roles as groomers, walkers, animal caregivers, or daycare workers typically make an average of $21,260 a year, according to BLS data.

There are also jobs in doggie daycare centers, animal shelters, and zoos. Any place there are animals, at times they will need help.

Your Own Animal Care Business

If you are entrepreneurial and are excited about the idea of finding your own clients and being your own boss, you might want to consider starting your own animal care business. Of course, this assumes that you either have, or are willing to acquire the skills needed, both in terms of the work with animals, and basic business skills, client communication skills, and organization. Never present yourself as having qualifications you don't have! But you can work for free for friends and family if you tell them that you are in the gaining experience stage. It takes time to build your own practice, but it can be very rewarding if you are patient.

Some areas you might want to consider for starting your own business:

Dog Walking & Exercising

Dog or Cat Sitting, boarding, (their house or yours)

Animal Grooming

Animal Nutrition

Dog Training and Behavioral Issues (if you have this training)

Animal Massage

Animal Reiki

Dog Yoga / Stretching with Dogs

Meditating with Animals / Mindfulness

The Trust Technique

Energy Healing for Animals

Cold Laser Treatments

Any healing modality you are already trained and certified in

Pet Therapy Visits

Read to the Dogs Programs

Grief Counseling and Pet Bereavement Counseling

Veterinarian-Assisted Home Euthanasia

As the saying goes, a dog is man’s best friend. They bring out the best in us. And our relationships with dogs may be more reliable than many of our human relationships. While humans may be confused or lie about love, as Jeffrey Masson asserts in the title of his book Dogs Never Lie about Love, they are not ambiguous or false about their feelings.

And as President Harry Truman once said,

“If you want a friend in Washington, get a dog.”

As Duke University’s Dr. Daniel Hare states in the “Dogs Decoded” on PBS, “Anywhere you find humans, you will almost certainly find dogs.” So it is about time, as a society, that we recognized how important companion animals are in our lives, and pet parents need a lot of help from time to time. While the scientific study of the Human-Animal Bond is relatively new, (in the last 30 years), the history of humanity is intimately connected with our relationship to animals.

Genie Joseph, PhD

Director: The Human-Animal Connection


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