What is it?
It’s often said that Britain is a nation of animal lovers, but with credit a-crunching and belts a-tightening, animal care is, err, going to the dogs, as owners put longer and longer hours in at the office in an attempt to pay off their debts.
There’s no doubt, then, that Britain’s dogs are crying out – pining, even – for attention, and if you’re an animal lover with an entrepreneurial streak who empathises with these oft-overlooked victims of the economic downturn, then starting a dog walking business could be right up your alley.
Despite reports that dog walkers have suffered from the effects of the credit crunch, a report by insurance company Insurantz.com, found that with 6.5 million dogs in the UK, dog walkers can earn up to £8 per hour per dog from time-strapped workers.
William Taylor, from industry body the National Association of Registered Petsitters (it also goes by the rather rude-sounding acronym ‘NARP’), agrees. “Although people might not have so much disposable income to spend on a pet sitter, they will have to work longer hours so they will need one in that instance,” he says.
There’s good money to be made in the business, he says. According to a recent survey by the organisation, demand risen by almost 60% in 2008. In Philadelphia, one dog-walking business grossed $650,000 (£377,800) last year.