Animal Specialty Services, Except Veterinary

SIC 0752

Industry report:

This classification covers establishments primarily engaged in performing services for pets, equines, and other animal specialties. These establishments include kennels, animal shelters, stables, breeders of animals other than livestock, pet registries, and a host of other animal care services. Establishments primarily engaged in performing services other than veterinary for cattle, hogs, sheep, goats, and poultry are classified in SIC 0751: Livestock Services, Except Veterinary. Establishments primarily engaged in training racehorses are classified in SIC 7948: Racing, Including Track Operation.

Industry Snapshot

Approximately 69 percent of all U.S. homes sheltered either a dog or a cat in the late years of the first decade of the 2000s. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, there were 81.7 million pet cats in the United States and 72.1 million pet dogs. Although cats outnumbered dogs, dogs were found in 43 million households--about 6.5 million more households than cats. Birds and horses were also popular pets, with about 4.5 million households claiming a bird and 2.1 million homes owning one or more horses. Smaller numbers of households had fish (9.0 million), rabbits (1.9 million), turtles (1.1 million), hamsters (826,000), lizards (719,000), guinea pigs (628,000), ferrets (505,000), and snakes (390,000). Because of the nation's affinity for pets, a growing number of animal specialty services emerged to provide a wide range of general breeding, grooming, care, and training services. The American Pet Products Association reported that total U.S. pet industry expenditures reached $45.5 billion in 2009, up from $28.5 billion in 2001 and $17 billion in 1994. Almost $3.4 billion was spent on grooming and boarding services alone in 2009.

Animal care and service workers held about 220,400 jobs in 2008, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). About 27 percent of these were classified as animal trainers, and 73 percent were non-farm animal caretakers. Animal trainers earned an average of $14.94 an hour in 2009 and worked in such areas as training dogs for assisting handicapped persons and training horses for riding, showing, or racing. About 54 percent of animal trainers were self-employed. Non-farm animal caretakers, on the other hand, earned an average of $10.50 per hour and were employed by such establishments as dog kennels, vet offices, boarding and grooming services, animal shelters, horse stables, zoos, and other animal-related businesses. Due to expected increases in the U.S. pet population, demand for animal care and service workers was expected to increase 21 percent between 2008 and 2018, according to the BLS.

In reaction to the growth in the demand for pet services, associations dedicated to this industry proliferated in the early 2010s. The Pet Care Services Association, for example, offered courses that resulted in certifications in Pet Care Technician, Advanced Pet Care Technician, and Certified Kennel Operator. Certification was also offered by the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters. Other related national organizations included Pet Sitters International and the National Dog Groomers Association of America.

Pedigree Record Services.
The American Kennel Club of New York keeps a list of the number of dogs registered to purebred parents. The Kennel Club's list of the top 50 dog breeds includes such standbys as Labrador retrievers, listed as the most popular breed in the United States for the 19th year in a row in 2010, although the German shepherd was in close second place for the first time in 30 years. In contrast to the widespread interest in purebred dog breeds, only a small percentage of cats are registered with one of the official registering bodies. The largest such body is the Cat Fancier's Association, which sponsors 650 member clubs scattered across the country. As of 2010, the Cat Fancier's Association recognized 41 breeds. Popular cat breeds included the Persian, the Maine Coon, the Siamese, and the Abyssinian.

Boarding Kennels.
Kennels care for small companion animals when their owners cannot. Kennels are used primarily as temporary homes while the pet owner is gone on business or vacation. There is much more to managing a kennel than feeding the animals, cleaning cages, and maintaining dog runs. Attendants are often called upon to perform basic acts of first aid, to bathe and groom animals, and to clean their ears and teeth. At the better kennels, the attendants also play with the animals, provide companionship, and observe behavioral changes that could indicate illness or injury. Often, kennels also sell pet food and supplies, teach obedience classes, help with breeding, and arrange transportation.

People who specialize in the maintenance of the appearance of pets are called groomers. Some operate out of kennels while others maintain their own independent businesses. Most groomers learn their trade by working for an established groomer, but a few schools do exist that teach the basic skills. The groomer combs, clips, and shapes the animal's coat according to a set of established breed guidelines.

Animal Breeding.
The small animal breeder raises animals for a variety of purposes. A breeder of dogs may produce the very best bird dog for hunting or fancy poodles for exhibiting in the show ring. Whatever the animal's purpose, the breeder's task is to produce the animal that is both phenotypically and genotypically demanded by the customer. In the case of dogs, these styles are constantly changing and the breeder must be on a constant look-out for outstanding genetic stock to improve the breed and his profitability. There are several pet publications that deal with specific breeds and carry advertising for stud dogs and litters. Numerous shows, trials, and exhibitions allow breeders to display their excellence in direct competition. Through such endeavors, the better dogs become well known and can command impressive fees.

Animal Shelters.
Commonly known as "the pound," animal shelters provide for the basic maintenance of pets that are lost or abandoned. Shelters screen applicants for adoption, vaccinate newly admitted animals, provide spay and neuter clinics and, as a last resort, euthanize severely injured or unwanted pets. According to the National Council on Pet Population Study and Policy, the number of dogs and cat entering these shelters continues to rise.

A major problem facing the small animal care industry is the frequency with which euthanasia is used--roughly 5 million dogs and cats are euthanized every year. Overpopulation and unwanted pets are the biggest reasons for these statistics and have prompted shelters to initiate concerted education efforts aimed at lowering those numbers. Recent budget cuts have also forced some shelters to support their populations with food processed from the remains of euthanized animals.

Shelters can be maintained by county, state, and local governments or may be sponsored by charitable institutions and foundations. They are almost always nonprofit organizations. One of the most important functions performed by shelters are the vaccination clinics they sponsor on a community-wide basis. They also maintain and operate pet ambulances or trucks in order to respond to emergency calls. It also falls within their jurisdiction to investigate complaints of animal cruelty. Most animal shelters will also aid the urban resident when he is faced with a pest or a livestock rancher who is experiencing losses due to roving packs of wild dogs. In ridding communities of rabid or vicious animals, the shelters work closely with county law enforcement officials.

Large Animal Specialty Services.
The use of horses for recreation and competition increased dramatically in recent years and produced a corresponding increase in demand for training and boarding services. Among these equine services are horse stables, which provide boarding accommodations for horses whose owners do not possess the facilities to house their animals. Fees, which can be tallied on a monthly or daily basis, are broken down for food and board and additional expenses such as veterinary care. Horse training is another key element of this industry. Horses used for pleasure riding, endurance racing, cutting, team penning, showing at halter, or any of the other number of activities must be properly trained.

Some operations also offer horse mating services, which have proven to be quite lucrative. Top breed stud fees continued to rise through the early years of the first decade of the 2000s, until the economic slowdown in the United States began to weaken sales. According to The Blood-Horse, a journal focused on the Thoroughbred horse industry, stud fees as well as the sale prices of thoroughbreds fell in 2008 and 2009 along with Americans' discretionary income. In the complicated world of racehorse breeding, stud fees ranged from $2,500 to $500,000. The average stud fee for 138 stallions that had two or more crops racing was an estimated $23,134 in the early years of the 2000s' first decade. The most expensive stallions commanded the highest stud fees and represented the fastest growing portion of the stud fee market.

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