In this “ruff” economy, spending money on pets hasn’t diminished, particularly in Hudson County. The additional expense of canine and feline family members, resulting in a $53 billion dollar business for their owners, doesn’t seem to faze the human parents. The pet market is continuously growing, including lines of new products, food, and supplies that are readily available throughout North Bergen and the surrounding areas.
“As the total pet population continues to grow, despite a slower pace, we still see the overall industry expanding year after year,” said Bob Vetere, president of the American Pet Products Association. “As pet owners continue to pamper pets and treat them like members of the family, we see positive growth and a response to consumer demand for more products and services which we expect to see through 2012.”
Hudson County residents are adoring pet-owners
Linda, a North Bergen resident, is the proud owner of two cats, Bucky and Chrysler, and one dog, Shay. She spends quite a bit of money a year on her pets, who she calls her “babies.”
While most of her pet budget is spent on toys, a recent visit to the veterinarian’s office for shots and checkups cost her $375. Many insurance agencies offer pet health insurance, which Linda does not think is worth the money.
“Pet parents really want to spoil their pets.” – Kelly Moore
Despite not buying into her pets’ healthcare, she admits that, “If it came down to a sacrifice, I would sacrifice something that I wanted for them.”
On a recent trip to PetSmart, she told the North Bergen Reporter, “I just dropped $96.”
Linda’s spending habits on her pets are not uncommon. Fairview resident Christine says she likes spending money on her Maltipoo more than she does on herself. “I come here [to PetSmart] like every other day. He’s like my kid,” she said of her dog.
The American Pet Products Association conducted a national pet owner survey in the 2011-2012 year, and concluded that about 62 percent of United States households contain a pet of some sort, with about 43 percent of those pets being dogs. The breakdown of spending for four-legged friends throughout the country amount to about $20 billion for food, $13 billion for supplies and over-the-counter medicines, $14 billion for vet care, and $5 billion for services such as grooming and boarding.
Another $3 billion amounts to the cost of various other expenses.
Pet-sitting, primping: an excessive expense?
While food will remain the number one product for pets, Vetere has noticed other products generating more revenue for the industry.
“The service category continues to flourish and is expected to do so in 2012 as well. We are seeing a boom in this category as people continue to work and require services such as pet sitting, boarding, and walking to care for their pets at home,” he said.
Jackie Warrick, president and chief savings officer of CouponCabin.com, said, “Many people keep their pet spending within reason, but sometimes it can get out of control.”
Warrick’s company conducted a recent survey in which 78 percent of U.S. adults agreed that people spend too much money on their pets. There are numerous services and products that seem excessive, including professional pet massages; beauty and grooming treatments that go beyond the traditional services, such as nail polish, hairstyling, and body wraps; pet hotels and boarding; gourmet food; psychological treatment and medication for anxiety and depression; experimental health treatments, particularly for cancer, and an excessive amount of toys.
There is plenty of evidence of extravagant spending in the Hudson County area. Robert Donohue, owner of local pet store Tails A Wag’n, said that many of his customers come at least once a month to get their pets groomed. The business offers services such as washing, blow-drying, brushing, combing, cutting fur, cleaning ears, and cutting nails.
“To most of the women I deal with, [their pet is] their child,” he said.
Couple Victor and Elsy, however, who care for their daughter’s Yorkie, admit that on a monthly basis, they spend “maybe a $100.”
“The more we keep him, the more we are in love with the dog,” they admit. “You don’t realize how much you’re spending, but it adds up.”
Many local pet owners, however, refuse to spend so much money on their animals. Maria, a Fairview resident, said, “That’s why I have fish. In a month, the most I’ve spent is $30.”