Canine Cash: 5 Ways to Make Money With 4-Legged Friends

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A pet project can fetch extra cash, or even lead you to a new career. Just ask dog walkers, pooper scoopers, and pet groomers – some make six figures.

The economy has gone to the dogs. Maybe you should, too.

Of all the luxuries and necessities we’re willing to sacrifice when times get tough, our beloved pets are rarely among them. Sure, there have been some isolated, breathless stories during the recession about “pet dumping.” But there’s been just as much research the other way, including this study from the American Pet Products Association that shows more than 80 percent of pet owners haven’t changed their spending habits at all.

“This information further demonstrates that pet owners will continue to cut back in their personal lives before scaling back on their four-legged friends,” said APPA President Bob Vetere. “This is the primary reason that the pet industry continues to remain strong.”

Strong enough, in fact, that jobs to take care of them are actually increasing. At least, that’s the prediction from the federal government’s Bureau of Labor Statistics. That’s right – the government has studied the issue. Here’s what it found…

In 2008, there were 220,400 Americans working in the animal-care field, ranging from dog groomers to pet sitters. (Those stats also include animal trainers like those at Sea World, but those numbers are tiny by comparison.) By 2018, the bureau estimates a 21-percent increase, to 265,900.

“The need to replace pet sitters, dog walkers, kennel attendants, and animal control and shelter workers leaving the field will create the overwhelming majority of job openings,” the bureau said in a recent report. “Prospective groomers also will face excellent opportunities as the companion dog population is expected to grow and services such as mobile grooming continue to grow in popularity.”

Best of all, “Many animal caretaker jobs require little or no training and have flexible work schedules, making them suitable for people seeking a first job or for temporary or part-time work.” Sadly, the pay isn’t so great. In May 2008, the median annual wage was only $19,360, and the top 10 percent earned just over $31,590.

Still, you can make decent to excellent money per hour in these jobs…

1. Pet sitter

The pay may not be stellar but the overhead is low because you’re caring for these animals in their own home. Here are what some pet sitter say they make, with $600 a week being quite possible for part-time work. For more details, check out the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters (NAPPS).

2. Dog walker

According to Professional Dog Walkers, you can earn up to $3,600 a month. But the biggest challenge is networking to drum up the business. You can use websites like DogWalker.com to help you there.

3. Pet groomer

Some groomers can make six figures a year, but it takes money to make that much – because you have to invest in the equipment. The fastest-growing part of the field are mobile groomers, and that adds gas, insurance, and maintenance to the expenses. The National Dog Groomers Association of America (NDGAA) has the details.

4. Pet masseuse

You can make money, but it’ll take not only money but time – you need to be trained. You’ll help pets, especially older ones, ease their chronic pain or recuperate from surgery and injury. Learn more from the International Association of Animal Massage & Bodywork (IAAMB).

5. Pooper scooper

Yup, you’re picking up dog poop. And yup, there’s even an organization for that. It’s called aPaws – the Association of Professional Animal Waste Specialists. Some members boast they make $100,000 a year for this unpleasant task.

Stacy Johnson

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