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.
115210 (Support Activities for Animal Production)
612910 (Pet Care (except Veterinary) Services)
Roughly 62 percent of all U.S. homes sheltered a pet of some sort in the early 2000s. Total pet industry expenditures neared the $20 billion mark. Dogs, cats, birds, and
fish were the most popular types, with about 70 million cats and 60 million dogs existing in the United States. Though cats outnumbered dogs, dogs were found in more U.S. households than cats, according to a study conducted by the American Veterinary Medical Association's Center for Information Management. And although the number of households with no pets increased, so did the number of households with more than one pet. Also, pet-related spending by dog owners increased by 38 percent between 1997 and 2002. Because of the nation's affinity for pets, a growing number of animal specialty services have emerged to provide a wide range of general breeding, grooming, care, and training services. The U.S. Market for Pet Care Products and Pet Supplies predicts that the pet care and pet supply industry alone will be worth $8 billion by 2007.
Though dogs and cats were the most popular of companion animals, bird ownership was on the rise in the early 2000s, accounting for 2 million veterinary visits in 2001. Other household pets that enjoyed increased popularity in the late 1990s and early 2000s included rabbits, hamsters, guinea pigs, ferrets, gerbils, snakes, lizards, and turtles.
Animal caretakers held about 151,000 jobs in 2002, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Those outside the farm accounted for roughly 80 percent of this total and earned a median hourly wage of $8.21. Most of these workers were employed in boarding kennels and veterinary facilities. Other employers included animal shelters; horse stables; and local, state and federal agencies. One out of every four animal caretakers was self-employed in 2002, compared to one out of six in the late 1990s. Due to expected increases in the U.S. pet population, demand for nonfarm animal caretakers is expected to increase faster than the average throughout the early 2000s.
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, which was listed as the most popular breed in the United States for the 13th year in a row in 2002, to breeds growing in popularity such as the Rottweiler did in the late 1990s. 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 2004, the Cat Fancier's Association recognized 37 breeds, including the most recent addition to its list, the Sphynx, added in February 1998. 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, bathe and groom animals, and 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.
Groomers. 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 numerous pet publications dealing with specific breeds that 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 Shelter. More commonly known as "the pound," the animal shelter provides for the basic maintenance of pets that are lost or abandoned. The shelter screens applicants for adoption, vaccinates newly admitted animals, provides spay and neuter clinics and, as a last resort, euthanizes 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 non-profit 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 has 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 late 1990s and early 2000s, until the economic slowdown in the United States began to weaken sales. According to figures compiled by publishing company The Blood-Horse Inc., the average stud fee for 138 stallions that had two or more crops racing was an estimated $23,134 in 2000, a 9.1 percent rise from the 1999 average of $21,207. The most expensive stallions had commanded the highest stud fees and represented the fastest growing portion of the stud fee market in the late 1990s. The average fee for this small group of stallions was $175,000 for 2000, a 25 percent increase over the 1999 average of $140,000. By 2002, however, the top price for an incoming stallion had plunged to $40,000. When the economy began to improve in 2003, this figure rebounded to roughly $100,000.
The American Kennel Club. Labrador Retriever Holds Position as Most Popular Dog Breed in America. New York: 31 January 2003.
American Veterinary Medical Association. Center for Information Management. "U.S. Pet Ownership and Demographic Sourcebook." 2002.
"Humanization of Pets to Help Grow the $8 Billion Pet Care Supplies Industry." PR Newswire, 13 June 2003.
Schmitz, David. "New Sires for 2004: Six-Figure Returns." The Blood-Horse, 11 December 2003. Available from http://www.bloodhorse.com/viewstory.asp?id=19553 .
U.S. Department of Labor. Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2004-05 Edition. Washington, DC: Bureau of Labor Statistics, February 2004. Available from http://www.bls.gov/oco/print/ocos168.htm .