“There is a huge disconnect between how much people care about their pets, and 98% of people believe that their pets are as important as human family members, but our laws are still treating them like property that have absolutely no inherent value,” Dr. Ellen Jefferson, president and CEO of Austin Pets Alive! and American Pets Alive!, said, during a recent SXSW panel on pet tech and the changing pet-owner relationship.
This is one of the critical, solvable problems leading to an estimated 1 million pets dying in shelters every year for lack of being adopted, or the availability of safety net support to help them stay with their families.
- A veterinarian shortage, exacerbated by more people bringing pets into their homes during the pandemic.
- Government shelters’ drastic underfunding.
- A critical scarcity of affordable, pet-inclusive housing. A quarter of pet owners say they’ve had to move because of their pet, while 14% of renters have had to give up their pet because they could not find pet-inclusive housing that they could afford.
In the SXSW panel, and in this Austin Pets Alive! blog, Dr. Jefferson made the case for tech innovators, entrepreneurs, and pet lovers looking to make a huge impact to put their minds to the biggest, toughest, most important problems facing animal welfare.
The field of sheltering shouldn’t be viewed as charity that entrepreneurs should support. They should look at it as a business opportunity. Americans now spend $1 billion per year on our pets. That number will only grow.
Think about what happened to the pet industry when during the first year of COVID, Americans opened our homes to shelter pets en masse. If 1 million more pets are saved each year, there will be billions more dollars spent by the people who love them. Now is what getting in on the ground level looks like. Tell your friends, tell your neighbors, tell the inventors in your life that we want them to be a part of saving animals’ lives.
We want to hear your ideas, too! Tell us where you see the need for innovators and creators to help us tackle animal welfare’s biggest challenges.