BARKS from the Guild January 2020

Page 52


Professionalizing the Pet Industry Niki Tudge explains why licensing alone is not the solution to raise the standard of dog training and behavior consulting


ccording to the registration required for American Pet pet industry employees Products Associa­ (other than veterinari­ tion (APPA) (2019), 67% ans, some veterinary of U.S. households now technicians, and board own at least one pet, certified veterinary be­ which equals an esti­ haviorists), or any re­ mated 84.9 million quirement to hold homes. Millennials repre­ relevant qualifications sent the largest segment (other than veterinari­ of pet owners for all pet ans, veterinary techni­ types owned, especially cians and board certified bird owners, small animal veterinary behaviorists.) owners, and saltwater Thus any numbers avail­ fish owners. In addition, able are not particularly more than 80% of Gen Z reliable. and Millennial pet own­ In her article Working ers report owning dogs, with Animals, published while 50% or less own by the U.S. Bureau of cats. Undoubtedly, these Labor Statistics, Royster © Can Stock Photo/tifonimages figures represent large (2015) details several pet In the fields of dog training, pet care and animal behavior consulting, there is currently no legal requirement to be certified and no legal mechanism in place to protect the consumer from negative numbers of constituents, care job titles, their ex­ or injurious consequences that transpire as the result of an individual’s lack of certification and if mobilized and pected median income, called to action, could job opening forecast represent a significant voting bloc. numbers, and qualifying credentials based on data published in 2012. Royster (2015) notes that “[m]ost occupations that involve working with animals have no postsecondary education requirements” and that for Booming Industry positions such as breeders, animal care workers, and animal trainers, the Many of the changes across the industry have been driven by technol­ only qualification required is a high school diploma or equivalent. She ogy and the ease of online purchases. Kestenbaum (2018) argues that points out that any “on­the­job” training required is moderate, a year “most of the growth is because of changes in culture. As Millennial and maximum, “to develop the skills needed to attain competency,” with no Generation Z consumers have come into adulthood, they have em­ additional experience required. Royster (2015) also notes that licenses, braced the pet­owning and pet­loving lifestyles to a far greater extent certifications, or registrations are not required for anyone wanting to fill than their elders. one of these “Other Services” type positions and join the pet industry. APPA (2019) reports that pet care spending in 2018 reached a In terms of any future legislation or oversight geared toward those “record­breaking high” of $72.56 billion compared to $69.51 billion in working in the field of pet care, training, or behavior consulting, it is my 2017, an increase of 4.3%. In 2019, this booming industry was expected to grow another 4.5%, generating $75.38 billion dollars that were esti­ mated to be spent across several key areas such as food, supplies, vet­ Royster (2015) notes that “[m]ost occupations erinary care, animal sales and “other services.” (APPA, 2019). The “other that involve working with animals have no services” income category references additional products such as postsecondary education requirements” and grooming, boarding, training, pet sitting, behavior consulting, pet exer­ that for positions such as breeders, animal care cise, and pet walking and represents a significant growth area in the last workers, and animal trainers, the only 20 years. Other services now account for around 8% of pet industry qualification required is a high school diploma or total income, or $6.3 billion per year, having gradually increased as a equivalent. She points out that any “on-the-job” percentage over the last 20 years, up from 4%, or $1.2 billion (APPA, training required is moderate, a year 2019).

The Need for Change It is very difficult at present to establish how many individuals are em­ ployed or contracted across the pet industry. There is no state or federal


BARKS from the Guild/January 2020

maximum, “to develop the skills needed to attain competency,” with no additional experience required.

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