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PSI Predicts Bright 2013 for Pet Sitters

Posted: Jan. 22, 2013, 7:00 p.m. EST


In its 2013 Pet-Sitting Industry Forecast, which became available on Jan. 14, Pet Sitters International (PSI) predicts a strong year ahead for the multi-billion-dollar pet-care services industry.

“With pet ownership at an all-time high and growing, the need for pet-related services, especially professional pet sitters and dog walkers, is on the rise,” said PSI president Patti Moran.

Today’s climate for pet services is quite robust entering 2013, according to the new report. PSI cites USA Today's analysis of 2010 U.S. Census data, which found that there are 43 million households with dogs and only 38 million with children. It also points to the 2011-2012 American Pet Products Association National Pet Owners Survey, which states that a total of 72.9 million U.S. homes own a pet of some kind. In addition, the APPA estimated 2012 spending for pet services, such as pet sitting and dog walking, at $4.11 billion, or $320 million higher than in 2011.

Pet Sitting Forecast for 2013
Much of the data in the report comes from PSI’s 2011 State of the Industry Survey in which the organization's membership of more than 7,000 professional pet service providers were asked to participate in the 106-question survey. PSI surveys its membership every three years. The 2011 survey was taken by 1,947 professional pet sitters and dog walkers, reflecting a response rate of 27 percent of the King, N.C.-based association’s membership at the time the survey was taken April 9 to 29, 2011.

Those PSI members who participated in the 2011 survey provided several details of note, which may speak to the wider pet-care services industry:

•  98.6 percent of all pet-sitting businesses are independently owned
•  83.3 percent are owned by women
•  84.5 percent of pet-sitting businesses carry both liability and bonding insurance
•  44 percent service suburban areas
•  103 is the average number of clients
•  2,606 was the average number of pet-sitting assignments annually
•  Average pet-sitting revenue for 2010 was $48,635
•  Average pet-sitting visit for 2010 was 32 minutes
•  Average pet-sitting fee for 2010 was $17.75

The report provided insight into the type of person most likely to use pet sitting services. Forty five percent of PSI members’ pet-sitting clients are married and between the ages of 36 and 50, according to the report. Single females tend to use pet-care services at a rate of 2 to 1 over their male counterparts.

While the typical pet-sitting business owner is female, more men are finding pet-sitting and dog-walking to be a viable livelihood, according to the report, and there has been an increase of men entering the industry, with 16.6 percent of pet-sitting businesses responding to the PSI survey indicating male ownership or co-ownership.

One of the trends forecast for 2013 by PSI is the increase of pet-care services for pets other than dogs and cats. Again, PSI points to the APPA’s 2011-2012 National Pet Owners Survey, which found that nearly 28 million households have pet fish, reptiles, small animals or birds. Among its own survey takers, PSI found that while 96 percent service both dogs and cats, 63 percent also provide pet-care services for birds, 61.6 percent for fish and 59.8 percent for small cage-dwellers like hamsters, guinea pigs and ferrets.

PSI expects the influence of social media to continue in the industry as not only a viable means of advertising pet-care services but also fueling a rise in legitimate competitors in the process. But the same social media sites can be used to promote a “mix of teenagers, college students and amateurs offering services at unrealistically low rates,” the report cautioned.

After only a week, the free downloadable report had already received 500 views, according to Beth Stultz, PSI marketing manager.

Last year was the first time PSI offered such an industry-wide forecast, and the feedback and response was so great, according to Stultz, that the organization will conduct another one for 2014.

“It was created as a benefit not just for our membership, but as an insight for those considering a career as a professional pet sitter or dog walker,” she said.

In fact, the organization generated several new members last year because of last year's forecast, she said.

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