When we first started out in the pet care industry, nearly nine years ago, there were very few pet-related businesses around. Over the past few years we have seen the rise of an enormous number of competitors in the pet care industry. Different companies now offer a huge variety of services from grooming, training, pet care and transport services. This is great for the pet industry but due to the number of companies starting up and the work being much more demanding than people first anticipate, so many companies fail to keep going past the first few years or trading. This is a real shame for smaller companies that could have offered so much to pet owners.
Unfortunately for pet owners most trades within the pet industry are unregulated i.e. Dog walkers, pet sitters, dog trainers. For dog walkers, a membership with the Pet Services Association, part of the Pet Industry Federation, although not mandatory, shows a commitment to carrying out as professional job as possible. Currently there are no set dog walking or dog training standards or qualifications so anyone can start their business up. At Friends for Pets, we think it is so important for the welfare of pets in our care to ensure workers in the industry have suitable qualifications experience and knowledge. For all of our new pet carers that work with us they are able to undergo our in house training pet sitter award scheme covering aspects of pet care such as:-
Different companies set their own standards of work many that although start with the best intentions, end up money-focused rather than animal-focused, for example dog walkers walking dogs in groups larger than six (the maximum number to be walked together in a group covered by most dog walking insurance companies) so they are able for less time. The welfare implications for animals is very upsetting and many times the pet owner is unaware that the dog will be spending more time being transported around collecting and delivering dogs back to their homes than actually walking. It is a huge responsibility for that one dog walker to have if something goes wrong either with one of the dogs in their group or from a reactive third party dog. It is so important that standards are developed for our industry.
Friends for Pets are supporting an All-Party Parliamentary Group to develop standards for different trades within the pet industry which once set, should filter out some of the less animal-focused companies and therefore enhance animal welfare through the pet care and training industries. Friends for Pets is currently one of three pet care companies in the UK that are associate members of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Animal Welfare which works to keep MPs informed about Animal Welfare issues and to produce potential legislation in the UK to improve Animal Welfare Standards.
Over the past couple of years Friends for Pets have linked up with individuals offering pet care services who have the same ethics and values as us. This benefits smaller companies hugely as they get to refocus their efforts back to the animals due to having more time. We help enhance their knowledge through our training schemes, help with the business side of things and offer a back up support for their regular clients. Not only does this help strengthen the animal welfare focused individuals, it weakens the more money-focused companies which improves animal welfare standards in the pet care industry. Improving pets welfare is why most people start their pet business and if professionals in the industry work together rather than ‘against’ each other we can make this happen. Collaboration of professionals also benefits the local pet owning communities by giving pet owners peace of mind knowing the pet is going to be safe and cared for by someone knowledgable, reliable and experienced.
If you would like to share you experience of working in the pet care industry or understand more what we do here at Friends for Pets get in touch on firstname.lastname@example.org.