While we have often focused on the role of reptiles and amphibians in the pet trade—it is our expertise, after all—we would be remiss if we didn’t expound upon the role of the faithful dog in the pet trade. Dogs have consistently led the pet industry in sales, in population, and in subsidiary supplies. Even in the face of economic instability and more, we see dog-specific specialty stores like dog-washes and obedience centers, gaining traction in the market. Dogs are more important than ever within the pet trade, and can provide a strong backbone for an enterprising entrepreneur.
We recently spoke to Keryn Rod, the National Director for Companion Animal Certification and Government Affairs with American Humane, to get her perspective on dogs’ role within the pet industry, here in the times of COVID-19. Rod echoed our own observations by stating “our dogs play an especially important role in helping to provide much needed love and support. Now, with so many people working from home, this has been the perfect time to add a new furry friend to the family tree.” A recent NBC News article confirms these findings, noting a 70 percent uptick in adoptions in major metropolitan areas. Dog sale rates from stores have mirrored this trend, with significant increases through the last six to nine months.
But, as we have discussed in terms of various reptile species, over-legislation has caused significant difficulties for pet retailers, even those who have been diligent in ethically sourcing their pets. While the fight against restrictive sourcing laws continues, in addition to sourcing animals from responsible sources, many store owners have begun to make partnerships in their community to simultaneously provide their store with animals by establishing relationships with local animal shelters and adoption agencies. These groups can help form a unique, symbiotic relationship with pet stores and support the overall business in their community.
Whether sourcing animals from suppliers or shelters, a high level of ethical standards should be at the forefront; Keryn observed that “pet stores that have adopted expanded welfare standards for both their suppliers and in their stores have the ability to address issues that arise in their community.” Every pet placement supports inroads into the subsidiary market–each animals requires food, bedding, a leash and collar, and so many other materials. Being able to aid in an initial pet placement can easily earn you a customer for life. Any pet store that chooses ethical sourcing for their pets and establishes community bonds stand the best chance of confronting restrictive pet-sourcing legislation.
However, Keryn’s role with American Humane has also provided new ways in which the pet industry can interact positively within the community. Within the Pups4Patriots program, American Human “matches and trains service dogs with veterans who have experience post-traumatic stress or traumatic brain injuries.”
Utilizing an intensive, hands-on training regimen, American Humane has been able to provide these veterans with some of the best-trained service dogs across the country. Keryn reflects on these pairings: “To have the honor of meeting these veterans and their service dogs, and to hear the amazingly transformative stories of how their pairing has changed their lives, gives a window into the commitment dogs have with their humans.”
However, the focus on how animals’ impact on our lives is not limited to the military; for a glimpse into a whole slate of phenomenal relationships with their owners, Keryn urges everyone to watch the 10th annual American Humane Hero Dog Awards, airing on October 19th on the Hallmark Channel. She notes that “this is an opportunity to see awe-inspiring stories of dogs making significant impacts in our human lives.”
As long as there has been mankind, dogs have been right beside us as companions, helpers and friends.
“We as an industry have the responsibility to protect the animals we sell, feed, and treat,” Keryn concluded. “We must protect choice for consumers in choosing a pet, which goes hand in hand with a focus on animal welfare.”
Fostering a symbiotic relationship between your local adoption agencies and your suppliers not only provides quality homes for animals in need, but positions you and your store in positive service to your community. Reach out, make those connections, and watch your patrons roll in.