By Jager Robinson and Lawrence Nzuve
The pet care industry will grow almost 4.5 percent in 2016, according to a study released by The American Pet Product Association (APPA) in late February, putting the industry in the top 15 fastest growing industries in the United States.
Every year, the APPA gathers data to describe where the pet care industry will be at the fiscal years end.
Nancy Hassel, president and founder of American Pet Professionals, says in the areas of pet grooming, boarding and veterinary, the industry on Long Island has grown in accordance with the APPA’s prediction, and doesn’t show any signs of slowing down.
“There used to be just one pet supply store near [Babylon] and one grooming shop,” Hassel said. “Now there are at least 7 – 10 different pet supply and grooming stores, from mom and pops to chains stores. It seems to be that way across most of Long Island – and a bit less on the east end.”
According to Hassel, the Long Island Pet Expo in March is expecting 12,000 people to attend the event with their pets. The Expo is an event for people to learn about pets and pet care as well as provide demonstrations with your animals about how to better care of them.
“[A part of the] industry that has grown a lot is pet events and more events allowing pets,” Hassel said. “[There] are a ton of events happening every week.”
This level of growth that Nancy and the APPA have outlined has helped businesses like The Groomery, owned and operated by Melissa Van Horn. As she begins to move to a different building, she can refocus on her passion, her non-profit animal shelter.
“ [The rescue] always run a deficit… Our vet bills are nearly $100,000 a year alone,” Van Horn said.
But the pet grooming side of the business helps keep The Groomery alive and well.
A 2015 study done by American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) showed that a owning a large dog on Long Island would cost nearly $2,000 for the first year.
This price tag accounts for various one-time expenses as well as the newest rising cost for owners: pet insurance. According to Embrace Pet Insurance, the pet insurance industry has risen at a steady 13 percent yearly since 2008 with the average cost of pet insurance being nearly $60 a month.
Shane Jennings, who works with Pet Plan, an insurance company covering the pet business, says that part of this industry growth, is the realization by people that emergency pet care is very expensive. According to the ASPCA, the average animal hospital visit, for a critical need animal, is nearly $3,000.
The growth of pet insurance sector has also has given their owners the confidence to leave their dogs in the hands of families instead of kennels.
Stephanie Albano, who has been a client with one of the local boarding services, can now enjoy an uninterrupted vacation without having to worry about the safety of her two Shih Tzu dogs.
“I took my dogs to one [company] and every time, I came back they were sick. My dogs have a weak immune system and this affected them,” Albano said. “My new boarder does not cage them. She walks them around and watches them together with her own dogs.”
Companies like Dogvacay, the organization Albano boards her pets through, have defined a new generation of pet care companies. These new industries, such as pet insurance and dog boarding, will allow the industry to grow to its projected APPA rate in 2016.