Did you know that 8 million cats and dogs are abandoned every year?
Half of those animals that are abandoned are euthanized, even though most of them are healthy with no behavioral problems. Purebreed dogs make up 25% of the dogs in animal shelters, according to the Humane Society. So, even the most popular breeds do not escape abandonment.
Yet, the very thought of parting with my dog is heartbreaking. So, it is difficult to understand why people dump their pets in shelters, where they may never find another home? I cannot imagine how a family can get rid of a healthy, happy dog.
Hence, I have been contemplating how people can contribute to the cause of keeping dogs out of shelters and the answer may lie in two things I love: dogs and entrepreneurship. I am convinced that pet businesses can impact dogs in a positive way and reduce the number of dogs in shelters.
So, do you want to change the world, one dog at a time? Then read on to find out how. But, to make a difference, people who want to save dogs through pet businesses must first understand why dogs end up in shelters.
Why Are Dogs Abandoned?
I am the proud mother of a very spoiled pit bull. The name pit bull describes a group of breeds which are notoriously used in dog fighting and whose numbers dominate the shelter populations here in the USA.
Statistics like this make it obvious that there are too many dogs in shelters. I know for certain that something has to be done to help abandoned dogs and, more importantly, keep dogs out of shelters.
Yet, there are numerous reasons why people give up dogs and understanding the issues that make dog ownership difficult for people is key to creating businesses that solve the problems.
The top reasons for dog abandonment, listed by Petfinder, include:
- The owners moving;
- Landlords not allowing pets;
- The cost or effort associated with owning a dog;
- Having too many dogs; and
- Not having time to care for them.
Behavioral issues also contribute largely to the number of dogs in shelters, especially in breeds with unique behavioral traits.
For example, Siberian huskies are prone to digging, escaping, and chasing small animals. These behaviors may be difficult for inexperienced dog owners who do not know how to keep them from running away, destroying the yard or tormenting the family cat. Also, herding breeds may herd family members or chase cars, while hounds bark excessively.
All breeds have behavioral traits that can become problematic if left unchecked. However, many people still purchase dogs because they like the way they look, without considering whether the breed and all its traits will fit in their family.
These are complicated problems, but there are ways to help solve them, including creating pet businesses that have positive effects on the dogs and their owners. The right pet business can make dog ownership more convenient or help dogs fit in better with their family.
Also, through businesses that foster positive relationships between dogs and their owners, more dogs will remain with their families who will see them as a family member.
8 Ideas for Pet Businesses that Will Keep Dogs out of Shelters
#1 Dog Walking
Dogs need exercise and lots of it! Dogs that do not get adequate exercise and stimulation are prone to developing behavioral issues, such as anxiety, destructive chewing, and compulsions. Not only do daily walks provide physical exercise for your dogs, such walks also exercise their minds. A walk fulfills their natural instincts to explore the world around them.
Meeting other dogs also gives them opportunities to socialize, which helps you train them in appropriate canine social behavior.
If you love dogs and are an active person, a professional dog walking service could be a fun and lucrative business. Dog walkers make upwards of $16 per walk, according to Entrepreneur.
But, you should do some research before you begin your business. You can also find out more by talking to your local groomers or pet stores.
Moreover, check classified ads and see what kind of requests people are posting for dog walkers. Are there other businesses offering similar services? Be sure you research your competition too!
You will also need a business license that meets the requirements of your local government. So, check into that before you start taking on clients. Additional education in dog behavior or training may also be helpful, but is not absolutely necessary.
Most dog walking businesses are independent, but franchises, such as Fetch Pet Care in the US, are also an option as a franchise offers more support and resources as you begin your business.
For example, the Fetch website says, “With Fetch!, you can build a solid career with a promising future by joining one of the best pet franchises nationwide. You’ll have the opportunity to be a part of the nation’s largest and most trusted pet sitting and dog walking business serving over 1,500 cities from coast to coast.”
#2 Dog Training
Training is vital for a well-behaved dog. Dogs do not know how to behave around humans and other dogs unless they are taught. So, a poorly trained dog is a recipe for abandonment. By making training accessible in your local community, you could keep dogs from being abandoned for preventable behavioral issues.
Dog training is more specialized than other pet businesses and usually requires additional education in animal behavior. The Animal Behavioral College offers certification programs for aspiring dog trainers both in-person and online.
Volunteering at local shelters, apprenticing under experienced dog trainers, and taking dog training classes are other ways to gain confidence and experience. The key is to learn as much as you can about training techniques, dog behavior and dog psychology.
The Indeed website lists the average dog trainer’s yearly salary at $49,000 in the US, £20,150 in the UK, and $45,000 in Australia. And, extra credentials, certifications, and experience equal higher pay rates.
#3 Dog Poop Cleaning Service
One of the top reasons why dogs are abandoned is that the owners do not have the time to care for them. People want dogs as companions, but only later realize that their lives are already too busy. So, many people buy cute puppies without anticipating that, like any other animal, they will go to the bathroom a lot.
Starting a poop cleaning business that reduces the amount of work involved with the messier part of owning a dog lets owners avoid cleaning their dogs’ poop altogether. Without the work of cleaning their lawn, they will be more confident in their ability to care for their dogs without adding more to their hectic schedules.
While it might not be the most glamorous job, all dog owners need help cleaning up their yard from time to time. Services such as All Dogs Poop in the US charge by the number of dogs in the household, starting at $12 per visit for one dog.
The owner of Doo Care, a poop cleaning service in Chicago, tells new business owners, “This business can be run from your small office or home and the start up costs are nominal.” Doo Care also recommends hiring employees who can help you work with a larger number of clients, while you manage the business.
If you are interested in starting a dog poop cleaning service, be sure to check the local laws and regulations concerning waste disposal.
#4 Pet Relocation Service
The number one reason for dogs being abandoned, according to Lifeline Dog Rescue, is that the owners move and cannot take their dogs with them.
So, businesses that help owners move their dogs or assist them in finding pet friendly apartments in their area may have a greater impact on reducing shelter populations than any other pet business.
There are already services, like PetRelocation.com in the US and Air Pets in the UK, which relocate pets worldwide. They also provide safe and secure travel for pets that need to move long distances. The rates per move hover around the $1,000 range in the US.
Beginning a pet relocation service may require special permits or licensing and you need to be familiar with the regulations for different modes of travel as well as how to move pets safely.
Another option for helping pet owners keep their pets when they move is to start a website directory for pet friendly apartments or a guide, like Wonder Puppy, which teaches owners how to find housing in their new city that will accommodate their furry friends. In this way, they will not have to give them up as they transition to a new home.
#5 Pet Boarding and Pet Sitting
People want it to be as convenient as possible to own dogs and are willing to pay for services that make dog ownership simpler. Dog owners still want to travel or go on vacation, even though many hotels and resorts do not allow dogs. So, pet boarding services and pet sitters allow dog owners to travel without the stress of finding accommodation for their dogs.
A good pet sitting service gives them the peace of mind that their dog is safe and comfortable, while they are away from home. Moreover, this service is needed around the world.
As a pet sitter, you will typically visit the owner’s house to care for their pet, while they are away. Pet sitters charge between $15-35 per visit, depending on the length of the visit. Pet sitters who stay overnight with their clients pets can charge even more.
If you want to start such a service, the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters recommends deciding services and rates, setting up a legal business structure and writing a business plan that outlines your business’s goals, marketing strategy, and budget. They also emphasize the need for liability insurance, should anything happen to you, an employee or a client’s pet.
A pet boarding service, in which a dog stays in your facility, can charge $12-$110 per day, depending on whether your have a basic kennel or a high-end boarding facility with play areas, activities, private runs, or other amenities.
Pet boarding services require a facility in which the animal stays for the duration of their owner’s absence. If you are opening a boarding facility, you must understand the zoning regulations and carry insurance for your business, your staff members, and the animals in your care.
Starting a pet boarding service is relatively simple, provided you have ample indoor and outdoor space, play area and above all, compassion for animals. However it’s not as easy as it sounds. It is an occupation of immense responsibility involving complete care of other people’s pets. We personally recommended having personal long term experience with animals. – Yashraj Bhardwaj, [email protected]Best Pet Boarding
Hiring quality staff members who truly care for dogs must also be a priority. Moreover, everyone in the business must recognize the huge responsibility of caring for another person’s pets and should care for the dogs as if the dogs were their own.
#6 Doggy Daycare
A doggy daycare is another pet business option that fulfills the same needs as pet sitting, but on a daily basis. In modern society in which people often work 40+ hours a week, dog owners cannot always be home during the day to care for their furry companions.
Leaving their dogs in the safe and fun environment of a doggy daycare allows the dog owners the benefit of owning a dog without the stress of worrying about how dog ownership will fit into their busy lifestyle. Dog owners can work all day, pick their dog up from daycare, and enjoy the evening with their favorite pooch.
Daycares for dogs are typically open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and are set up in a cage-free environment where dogs can play and socialize with other dogs. These daycares also often feature indoor and outdoor play areas.
Kim Buchanan, who owns a daycare and training center for dogs in the eastern US, says that doggy daycare owners should make pick-ups and drop-offs easy. The pet owners should be able to come and go quickly, whether they are dropping off their dogs before work or picking them up on their way home.
Vaccinations and vet records should be verified for each dog in your care to ensure the safety of all the animals. Dog daycares typically charge $240 to $550 per month for each dog.
#7 On-Call Pet Clinic
Many pet owners do not know what to do when their dogs become sick in the middle of the night. So, the option to visit an emergency or on-call vet clinic adds to the ease of owning a dog and removes the stress on owners when something goes awry with their pet’s health.
So, if you have veterinary experience, you could open a 24 hour or emergency veterinary clinic. These clinics are typically open during the night, when other vets are closed, or have vets on call to meet pet owners at their clinics after business hours in the case of an emergency.
It is possible to purchase an existing veterinary practice or open a new office to begin an on-call service. Vets that work in emergency care for animals must have extensive skill and experience as vets, but they are compensated well for it as emergency vet care is not cheap.
The initial exam for a dog in an emergency situation can cost up to $400 and tests and procedures cost even more. A visit to the emergency vet with my childhood dog, who was 15 years old, revealed a large, malignant tumor in his abdomen. The exam, x-ray, and, sadly, the decision to euthanize him rather than pursue a high-risk surgery cost over $700.
#8 Dog Rescue or Shelter
Ellen McNeely-Paquin, in her article Why Do You Rescue?, wants potential shelter owners to be realistic about what is involved in working with abandoned dogs.
Rescue is hard. Rescue is sad more times than happy. Rescue is tiring. Rescue is not pretty. Rescue is expensive. Rescue is physically, mentally, emotionally, financially draining. Rescue will shorten my life. But sometimes, it’s not how long you live, but what you do with the time you have that matters.
Clearly, rescue work is emotional and takes a lot of love, patience, and determination to give dogs the best lives possible.
Although, starting a physical or online dog rescue or shelter is probably the most taxing and exhausting, it is also the most rewarding pet business. This is because shelter workers interact daily with dogs who have been lost, unwanted or abandoned.
Have a backup plan ready so that you can always have enough food ready, proper general medicine, availability of vet in case of emergency and more. Also, make sure you have a safe and ventilated space available to help move the dogs freely. – Yatharth Dahinwal, [email protected]FurryTude
The first thing to consider when starting a dog rescue is whether it will be at a physical location or an online group?
On the one hand, online rescues post ads and photos of dogs that are available for adoption, while the dogs themselves reside in foster homes or with their original owners until new homes can be found.
On the other hand, opening a physical shelter begins with setting up a non-profit, securing funding, hiring employees and finding volunteers, and finding a facility to house the dogs in residence.
The rescue team at Pitbull Rescue Central (an online adoption resource that helps connect pitbulls with new homes) points out that shelter owners must also decide how to screen families, process adoptions, and charge adoption fees.
Also, they must have policies in place if an animal must be returned to the shelter. Another important aspect of running a shelter is figuring out how to fund medical care for the dogs who come to you as they may be sick, injured or in need of vaccinations.
Do not create a situation where an animal died because of infection in the air. Make sure to have a strong heart and just keep helping animals and do not adopt any even if you’re dying to. The more you’ll adopt the lesser you’ll be able to work towards welfare. – Punita Gulati, [email protected]Fetchboarding (animal rescue, dog walking, pet boarding)
You won’t get rich working at an animal shelter. The highest positions in a shelter, such as the executive director, pay about $62,000 per year. However, most animal shelter workers do it because of their love of animals, not for the money.
Other Ways to Help
If it is impossible to open a pet business, there are many other ways to support shelters and dogs in need, such as the following:
- Practice responsible pet ownership.
- Vaccinate, spay or neuter, and microchip your dogs.
- If able, donate money or volunteer time to a local dog rescue.
- Foster a rescue dog. (While most foster positions are not paid, you will be a part of helping a dog transition into a healthy, loving home.)
- Adopt from a shelter when you are considering a new dog! There are millions of dogs who need a stable and caring family.
Pet businesses truly improve the quality of life for dogs and their owners. Through these services, it is possible to save dogs who might be abandoned due to a move or the time involved in caring for them. Many people crave the companionship that canines offer, but their lifestyles are just too hectic to take on the full responsibility of dog ownership.
Pet businesses are organizations with big hearts. Contributing to the community as a pet business owner has a positive impact on dogs and the families who keep them.
So, do you want to save dogs? Which of the business ideas listed above sounds the most appealing to you? Do you have any questions?