Almost every human activity has an economic impact. Such impacts might be difficult to analyze, but that hasn’t stopped economic development gurus from putting out numbers.
It’s clear that cycling, arts/culture and the military are important drivers of our future economic growth, but another one might beat all three put together.
Colorado Springs is home to an estimated 70,000 dogs, according to the Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region. Other groups say that more than 60 percent of city households include a canine or two (or three or four).
Dogs are increasingly considered family members, not merely hairy beasts that live in backyard kennels. Today, family pets sleep in the bedroom, accompany their owners on vacation, benefit from advanced medical care and strongly influence family decision-making.
The AVMA estimates that dog owners spend approximately $750 annually on vet services for their animal companions.
At Petco’s San Diego headquarters, 30 percent of employees bring their pets to work. In a recent interview with The New York Times, CEO Brad Weston talked about company policy.
“We have three dog parks outside the building,” he said. “If I’m in meetings, my assistant will take my two dogs for a walk. However, one of my philosophies is to get out of my office and drop in on conversations, so I like to take the dogs myself when I can. The animals become part of our routine.
“We think it adds to the environment, and it’s a definite draw in recruiting.”
While Colorado is a notably dog-friendly state — shelter dogs and cats are the official state pets — Colorado Springs is the leader of the pack.
Recognized by Forbes magazine as America’s most pet-friendly city in 2007, Colorado Springs was praised for its “generous public space, ample veterinary care and wealth of pet-friendly retailers.” A few years later, Livability rated us second, behind Portland, Ore.
During 2016, the city has gone even further to the dogs.
Restaurants, hotels, business owners and governments increasingly cater to canine preferences. The newly opened Blue Dot Place apartment complex welcomes dogs. Two friendly dogs greet customers at downtown’s Home Lighting at 319 N. Tejon St.
Restaurants in Colorado Springs, once forbidden by El Paso County Public Health to admit dogs, can now serve customers with dogs on their patios. Mutts are even welcome at upscale hotels, such as the Wyndham Mining Exchange and The Broadmoor.
The American Kennel Club licensed and sanctioned 470 Colorado events in 2014 in which 77,200 dogs participated. The AKC noted that dog show exhibitors spend an average of $512 on a weekend, creating an annual statewide economic impact of more than $20 million.
According to the American Veterinary Medicine Association, total veterinary expenditures for all households with pets were estimated to be about $28 billion in 2011. Dogs represented 68.1 percent of total veterinary expenditures. The AVMA estimates that dog owners spend approximately $750 annually on vet services for their animal companions, equating to an estimated $52.5 million in Colorado Springs. Adding another $500 per pet annually for food, collars, leashes, toys, shampoo, skunk deodorizer, grooming and other expenses brings the economic impact up to $87.5 million.
Animal rescue organizations also contribute to the local economy. The Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region reported 2014 revenues of $10.94 million, expenses of $10.15 million and total net assets of $18.76 million. The organization is in the process of building a 13,000 square-foot addition to its present 59,000 square-foot building.
“We have a staff of 90,” said Humane Society president Jan McHugh-Smith, “and 911 volunteers who contributed 90,000 hours last year.”
By the Numbers
Food $23.04 billion
Supplies/OTC Medicine $14.39 billion
Vet Care $15.73 billion
Live animal purchases $2.19 billion
Pet Services: grooming & boarding $5.24 billion
U.S. dog ownership 54.4 million
(Source: American Pet Products Association)