A TAIL of Two cities – An Update on the Pet Economy

Host 1: New Yorkers are crazy about their dogs. And it’s estimated that American spending on pets has nearly doubled in the last 10 years to its current rate of 60 billion dollars a year.

Host 2: Doggy lifestyles run the gamut in the city: some are homeless and some have rooms which are bigger than human apartments. Tyler Daniels looked into what is breeding changes in the current pet economy.

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If you were looking for a pet last weekend, it was one stop shopping at the Altman building on West 18th street. Best Friends Animal Rescue was holding its inaugural Pet Super Adoption for Manhattan.

[fade up dogs]

The space has seen its fair share of weddings and black ties – but Friday to Sunday it had tarp on its floors and rows of crates that housed 600 dogs and cats – all looking for a home.

In one corner, Judah Battista, a director of the event makes sure potential pet parents know there’s a big discount today….

Battista: We have a promotion running for people that know the secret code, if they say save them all, we’ll subsidize the adoption for them.

        That’s event organizer Juddah Battista.

        [more barking]

Stuffing is a pit-bull mix. She stands out sporting a pink tutu and  can hardly contain her excitement when anyone walks by

        [play sound of stuffing]

Others like 8 week old beagles Shasta and Sigrid, focus more on playing with each other –

[sound of dogs playing ]

or with my microphone

        [Sound of dog chewing on mic]

If you’re an animal lover, cuteness abounds. But Christina Howley, the director of the Bark Rescue Group, wants potential owners to know today is about more than just loving your dog.

Howley: There’s a huge financial responsibility as well as a personal responsibility

Her group asks for a $2 – 300 dollar donation to adopt the dog

Howley: if a family can’t afford that – that’s a red flag to us– we can vet out who can financially afford the dog or not –

Carmen O’Connor loves dogs- she already has two collies at home – and she volunteers with one of the groups here at the rescue event – but after looking at one of the dogs all weekend  – she couldn’t hold back any longer

O’Connor: “I saw her and I wanted to add her to the family”

She’s completed all the paperwork and to celebrate –  a bell rings – indicating another pooch has found his forever home.

[sound of adoption bell ringing]

And because O’Connor already owns two dogs, she won’t be surprised by any of the costs …

O’Connor: “just like anything just give it healthy foods, and give it walks and take care of it and groom it occasionally, but overall it’s not a daunting task”

In a space of a few short minutes this Colle’s gone from one of hundreds looking for a home to having a first and last name

        This is Sadie O’Connor  

[fade down adoption noise]

It’s this family like connection to dogs that experts say is driving the pet economy

Jamie Baxter: We see them more as a member of the family so we are putting financial dollars towards them like we are our kids”

That’s Jamie Baxter form the American pet products association.

Baxter: We’re increasing the vet visits and we are more aware of the food that we’re giving them.

 

 

Since 2003, American pet spending has DOUBLED from 30 to 60 billion dollars annually which is  twice the state budget of New Jersey.

 

When it comes to pampering and spending – New York knows how to do it right. Take for example this dog hotel on west 27th street.

 

Brown: D pet Hotel is the most luxurious dog hotel in New York City.

Co-founder Kerry Brown shows me around. On the ground floor of the Chelsea Building is a doggy daycare it’s got a lobby area  – and behind large glass windows are a large play area where roughly 25 dogs are running around.

[dogs barking]

Then Brown shows me the basement –  aka the hotel.

Brown: When dogs board with us they never have to stay in a cage or a kennel. They get their very own little suite.

The hotel has three tiers of suites – ranging from 80 bucks for a basic crash pad  to 200 dollars a night for an ‘uber suite’

Brown: We have a certain clientele that only uses the uber-suites

As we come around the corner in the basement we met one of the guests, Yoghi greets us as we walk by her elite room.

 

[sound of Yoghi barking]

Brown: yoghi, yoghi relax, you’re okay

 

Brown calms the guest –  though we did walk in her room unannounced…

 

Brown:It’s really, like nicer than my bedroom at home. It’s got a full sized bed 42” flat screen TV. Really all the comforts of home

As we leave, yoghi continues watching Scooby doo and the pirates on her TV….

[scooby doo music]

Brown is playing off the idea that new Yorkers love their dogs and want them to be spoiled.

 

That’s what attracted a customer Nancy – who didn’t want to give her last name –  She’s just dropped her dog Oscar off – and she’s scanning the play area before she departs…

Nancy: Well Oscar used to live just a few blocks down…oh there he is!

She stands in the hotel lobby with her suitcase looking through the glass windows. Nancy’s opting for the standard room, which runs $84 bucks a night..worth the investment for her

 

Nancy: he just likes the socialization…he loves it here …I mean look at him he’s already playing with all the dogs…it’s a just a good place

The American Pet Products Association projects another 4 percent growth in spending next year…which could mean more treats, hotel visits and better food for Oscar and his friends

Tyler Daniels, Columbia Radio News

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