Pet Sitting as a Barometer of Economic Impact From Covid-19
February 28th was the first indication I received of how much our pet sitting and dog walking business was about to be impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic. It was on this date that a pet sitting client canceled their services because their business trip had been canceled. This wasn't an overseas trip or a cruise or anything that had been impacted to that point. This was a business trip to Milwaukee, Wisconson that was canceled for precautionary reasons.
This was the first indication that our little pet sitting and dog walking business was going to b impacted and I felt that if we were going to feel this impact then the rest of the economy was going to face it as well. At this point, I viewed it mainly as a crisis of confidence and uncertainty. Then we get to the second week of March. NBA players walked off the court because a player had tested positive. A couple of days later every sports league in the United States had canceled or postponed their season and state and local governments were putting restrictions in places to slow the spread of Covid-19.
While the pet care industry was considered essential it was deeply impacted by other restrictions. The lac of unnecessary travel meant vacations were postponed, no dining out or museums being opened closed off day trips, school being canceled meant that either our clients or their kids were home to take care of their pets. So, while pet sitting and dog walking wasn't directly closed down everything that was closed had an impact.
The cancelations poured in like requests once did. We watched as business dropped nearly to zero and on March 13th I remember feeling like I was at the bedside of a terminally ill patient. The sun was shining. I had a normal amount of visits, but I knew that wouldn't be the case tomorrow, or fr the next few weeks, and it was uncertain when or even if things would return to normal. At this point, there were no PPP loans or PUA unemployment. The business was in very real danger of not surviving, and all this time I thought back to two weeks ago when I received that first warning wondering if I shouldn't have taken more precautions. I had known there was going to be an economic impact but I did not foresee just how large it would be.
It is now almost four months from that March date when everything shutdown. Business has steadily increased but is still far shy of where it needs to or was predicted to be, and with the EU and Canada currently not allowing American tourists, New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut requiring 14 days quarantine before entering, and several states experiencing rapid and alarming spikes in the number of cases it is hard to envision a quick recovery. Just as the pet sitting and dog walking industry was one of the first affected by Covid-19 it might be one of the last to recover.
This experience has highlighted how much our tiny little pet sitting and dog walking business is impacted by geopolitical and economic forces. We will continue to take care of all the clients that need us during this time and do hope that once this virus is under control that there is a demand spike in travel and the need for a mid-day walking buddy for all the dogs that grew used to having a person at home. The unfortunate truth is the lifting of restrictions might help a little but the real force that will move our business and the economy forward again is consumer confidence, and we will not experience a full recovery and get back on the track towards growth until people feel safe and secure to begin traveling again.