When I was a kid, growing up, I knew deep in my soul that I wanted to work with pets as a career, but there were not many options from which to choose. Being a veterinarian was my first choice, being a dog trainer was my second choice, and beyond that, I didn’t see many women working, owning and running their own businesses in the pet industry.
The pet retail stores, what few of them there were at the time, were not owned or run by any women. In fact, I really didn’t know of many women working and prospering as pet professionals.
Fast forward to 2017, and you could say that women rule the world in the pet industry compared to 25 years ago. Women are a major contributing factor in the pet industry—there is no denying that. While many members of American Pet Professionals are men, we have women members from every area of the industry and many who have created their own unique niche pet business. To say I have seen a big shift in more women-owned businesses—my own business included—in our industry would be an understatement.
Today, I know more pet retail store owners that are women. I know of successful pet sitting and dog training companies that are run by women. There are women who are creating, designing and bringing new and innovative pet products to the marketplace. I see more women pet professionals, who collaborate and work together daily to grow their own businesses, lend their expertise to others.
What I have noticed is that a lot of women have decided to enter the pet industry as a second or third career. Maybe these women have finally realized their dream of opening that pet retail store or had an idea for a pet product that no one else thought of yet. They may have also seen other women go from working in a non-pet corporate career to being successful pet business owners.
Seeing and learning about new pet businesses daily that are knocking it out of the park and that are women-owned is inspiring to say the least. Hearing their stories of how they did it is so encouraging for our younger generation of women who want to jump in.
Regardless of whether you are 15 years old or 60 years old, many women are now seeing the incredible opportunity they can have in our industry and that they can successfully fulfill their dreams of working with pets and animals on a daily basis.
Currently, the enrollment of women in veterinary school is over 77 percent, compared to only 22 percent of men who enroll. Men are now the minority in what was a male-dominated field in the pet industry. Walk into any veterinary hospital and the majority of veterinary technicians, as well as veterinarians, are women these days.
At this year’s Global Pet Expo, it became evident just by walking the show floor that there were just as many (if not more) women than men who were in attendance as vendors and buyers/retailers. In speaking with some of the vendors at Global (many of whom were also women), I asked if they felt more of the buyers/retailers coming to their booths were women. It may surprise you, but the typical answer that I received was 70/30—70 percent being female buyers or retailers. That is quite a shift.
Every year at Global Pet Expo, the industry honors a member of the media at the Excellence in Journalism and Outstanding Contributions to the Pet Industry Awards, and in the past 13 years, 11 of the award’s recipients have been women.
Women are influencing the pet industry every single day, in every area of our industry that you can imagine, and creating newly niche businesses. It is very encouraging for this pet pro to see this, and I cannot wait to see what is next for our industry and the women in it. You can do it, ladies—don’t let anyone tell you otherwise!