Puppies and new pets may have been a cure for pandemic blues, according to new data that shows a surge in pet adoptions in 2020.
BluePearl Pet Specialty and Emergency Animal Hospital surveyed 650 veterinary practices and confirmed pet ownership has grown and vet visits have increased during the COVID-19 pandemic. Veterinarians say they’ve seen sicker and emergency cases during the pandemic, as well as an increase in new patient appointments. Compared to 2019, vets saw 10 times more patients under the age of 1 and 660,000 pets for the first time in 2020.
New fur baby and pet partners have helped owners through this tough time, and now, they are helping pet businesses bounce back.
“There is certainly a boom in the pet sector,” Ian Barnett, general manager at The Fish and Bone pet store in Boston.
Like most businesses in the city and around the country, the pet store had to close for weeks last March, which was a huge financial hit. However, when it reopened, it started to notice the new trend that has helped business ever since.
“We definitely started to see more and more people coming in saying, ‘Hey, I just got a new puppy,’ or ‘I’m about to get a new puppy,’ ‘I just got a new kitten,’ or ‘I’m about to get a new kitten’,” said Barnett.
Almost every day, they have at least a half dozen people walking in with new pets, but over the past few months, The Fish and Bone has gotten hundreds of new customers. Of course, that translates to thousands of dollars in new sales and job security for those working at the Boston-based pet store.
“People, they have wanted a dog in their lives, they’ve wanted a cat in their lives for a long time,” said Barnett, "They felt like, ‘I don’t have the time’ or ‘I don’t have the energy.’ The pandemic kind of gave them the opportunity to bring a pet in their lives and make it a part of their family,” Barnett said.
People like Amanda Carter, who is a new customer at The Fish and Bone, have gotten pets over the past year for companionship during social isolation. Some have wanted pets but weren’t home enough to care for one. Now, they are and may stay working at home permanently.
“She was a gift for me, and now, she’s my baby now,” said Carter.
Carter got Molly, her first-ever pet, in November. The 5-month-old pup has been her sole companion ever since. The two moved across the country shortly after, and Carter couldn’t imagine making the move without her new forever companion, especially during this challenging time.
“Stress is not as high as it would be without her,” said Carter.
This pandemic trend of more people getting pets has so far been a major win-win for both businesses and people alike. For new pet owners, they have much-needed companionship during a year of isolation. For pet businesses, it’s helping them bounce back after a rough few months.
The pet industry expects customers to spend even more money as they continue to splurge on their new pets, For the pets, with more pet ownership, shelters are running low or empty for the first time in years.
“That is kind of the dream for everyone in this industry to see the shelters empty, because everyone has been adopted. To see every other person walking down the street with a dog,” said Barnett. “I hope this trend continues.”