Pet Sitters International, the largest trade organization for professional pet sitters (currently has over 8,000 members world-wide), of which I am a member, is the only source for statistics, data and information on the industry of professional pet sitting. The last survey which was conducted in 2008, with a total of 1,814 members (24% response rate) responding, was tabulated and analyzed by an outside marketing research firm. Although this survey is a little old, I'm sure the results haven't changed that much in the last couple of years. When they do a new survey, I'll be sure to update you with the current findings.
The survey says.....
The typical member is Female (92%), age 41 to 60 (60%), Caucasian (94%), Married (59%) and owns her home (82%). Additionally, she has completed at least some college (88%), entered the pet-sitting industry due to her love of animals (55%), and has been in business for 5 years or less (61%). 98% of all businesses are independently owned.
Pet sitters most commonly own dogs (79%) and cats (61%). Of these, members typically own two dogs and three cats. Approximately one-third of all members belong to an animal rescue or shelter organization. A large majority of members carry both liability and bonding insurance (84%).
Nearly all PSI members service both dogs and cats, while two-thirds service fish, birds and cage pets. The average number of clients (for 2007) was 191, and the average number of pet sitting assignments was 2,169. More than 90% of all members advertise; through word of mouth (98%), business cards (96%), and PSI Pet Sitter Locator Web (94%). 68% of all members advertise through their own website. (This percentage may be bigger now.)
On average, the typical pet sitter client is a married couple between the ages of 36-50. Survey respondents reported that there are more married couples without children (40.5%), than couples with children (28.9%) who utilize their services. Single females tend to use pet sitters at a higher rate than males. Individuals ages 26-65 appear to utilize pet sitters at the same rate, while those under 25 years old made up only 4.2% of all clients. The top three reasons for the use of pet sitters are vacations, midday walks/visits and work schedules.
So where did Cozy Critters stand in 2007? (I am definitely a "typical" member and one who entered this profession because of my love for animals.) We had serviced dogs, cats, horses, birds, rabbits, fish and various other caged critters. We had been in business 5 years, had 175 active clients (259 clients since we began but we lose a percentage to moving or death of pets) and did 4,218 visits that year (351 visits per month average).
Something else a lot of people don't realize about pet sitters is that we typically work 365 days a year (those of us who do it full time). Our busiest times are holidays and summertime. In the (now) 8 years I've been pet sitting, I've been trying to think of any other profession or job that requires you to work every day of the year and I cannot come up with any. If you can think of one, let me know. I also cannot think of another profession or job you could have where every time you show up, you are greeted with such love, excitement and enthusiasm!