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The Pandemic Boom in Pet Ownership
Joyce L. Gioia, CMC, CSP --  The Herman Group Joyce L. Gioia, CMC, CSP -- The Herman Group
Austin, TX
Wednesday, August 25, 2021


The Herman Trend Alert

August 25, 2021

The Pandemic Boom in Pet Ownership

I admit it; I love dogs. They are sweet and loving and always happy to see you when you arrive home. And, though I am a dog-person, I own a cat. My husband is a cat-person and pre-COVID, he was the one of us who was home most of the time. So, when I saw this trend about the exponential increase in pet ownership, I couldn't help myself, I had to write about it. But be sure to read to the end, because there has been a reversal as well.

A Cure for Lockdown Loneliness

Pet pals are great company. Dogs and certain cats are happy to see us when we arrive home---or even if we just arrive to where they are in the house. From a physiological point of view, numerous studies have shown that pets lower humans' blood pressure and reduce feelings of anxiety, loneliness, and depression. When I was interviewed by the radio host Frankie Boyer recently, we talked about mental health and I recommended that one way to avoid depression was to focus on some-one or some-thing else; I suggested that getting a dog would make a huge difference in the lives of her listeners, just as it has for millions of others in the United States.

Millions of Pets Found New Homes

During the last year in the US alone, about 13 million households added a pet. That uptick created an unprecedented demand for furry friends. Not surprisingly, puppy sales increased by more than 40 percent, while animal adoptions saw similar improvement, including the adoption of over 2 million cats. In the US, the dog and cat population reached 160 million. Pet parents are spending USD$103 billion on their four-legged children. and that number is expected to nearly triple over the next decade. Investors, are you listening?

The Law of Supply and Demand is Alive and Well

Buying a full-breed pet can be expensive---and difficult. From breeders that have multiyear waitlists to breeders who screen their customers for occupation and travel schedules, money is not necessarily the only factor. And from Welsh terrier puppies costing USD$2,700 to USD$10,000 for a fully trained Bernedoodle* puppy at USD$20,000, depending on the breed you are looking for, you could be talking about spending what it would cost to buy a car.

Petcare: a Globally Booming Industry

Over the past decade, the US pet sector has more than doubled in value. During the last 18 months, Petco's sales rose 11 percent, and the online retailer Chewy's business grew by 47 percent. The surging demand has had other consequences, including a shortage of pet food. By 2025, the global petcare market is expected to hit USD$118 billion.

Why Dogs---Especially---are in Such Demand

Humans and dogs have lived together for over 40,000 years. Through breeding and natural selection, we have created dogs to be great companions. Today, it's not uncommon for people to give their dogs and cats clothes, Instagram accounts, and even a spot on the bed. About 75 percent of Millennials have pets; many are unmarried and know that pets are good company, or they have decided that human children are "too expensive." While mass sterilization has reduced the pet population, the competition for pets has been fierce. However, that may be changing. . .

But Wait. . .A Potential Huge Problem Is Brewing

Few people are talking about the other side of this surge. Some of the pets that were adopted during COVID are now being returned to the shelters in record numbers. From Colorado to Florida to Seattle, people who adopted pets are now giving them back to shelters or abandoning them in the woods or elsewhere. People who are going back to congregate workspaces or going on the road again are not in a position to care for their animals and particularly dogs are being brought to shelters in big numbers.

The Unintended Consequences of these Give-backs

This large-scale return hurts pets and people; the pets become depressed, and the humans miss their pet company. At the same time, it is certainly not fair to leave a pet alone for the entire day. The solution, of course, is doggie daycare and this service could be some companies' Unique Selling Propositions as they vie for top talent. Imagine being able to visit your pet at lunch. However, since companies and communities do not seem to be able to provide daycare for children, the expectation that they will choose to provide daycare for the four-legged children of their employees Is probably illogical. All that said, wise companies will provide both! 

As we go to press, FairyGodBoss.com just posted a new article "5 Rules for Bringing your Dog to your Workplace without Ruining your Reputation." Enjoy!

* A Bernedoodle is a cross between a Bernese Mountain Dog and a Poodle.

Special thanks to The Week and The Economist Magazines for their coverage of this topic.

Next Week's Herman Trend Alert: The Demise of Retail

A combination of the Pandemic and changing consumer preferences has led to many retailers closing their doors. At the same time, Amazon is now considering establishing bricks and mortar stores for the first time. The next Alert will give you insights into what's actually happening and why. What it means to consumers and what, if anything, store owners can do to stay in business.

News Media Interview Contact
Name: Joyce L. Gioia, CMC, CSP
Title: Certified Speaking Professional and Management Consultant
Group: The Herman Group
Dateline: Austin, TX United States
Direct Phone: 336-210-3548
Main Phone: 800-227-3566
Cell Phone: 336-210-3548
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