The COVID-19 lockdown and the subsequent isolation felt by people has led to a boom in pet trade.
Pet animals and birds are in high demand so much so that people sometimes find it difficult to get their desired ones.
Families staying even in apartments are rearing dogs and cats. Parents see pets as a means to engage children who have been stuck at home and deprived of friends and companionship for almost two years. Adults also take refuge in furry friends to ward off lockdown blues.
Studies have proved that pets help reduce blood pressure and provide relief from anxiety and depression.
“It has been almost two years since I met my friends. School closed in February, 2020, even before our final examination in Class V. Now I am in Class VII,” says Aaron Jojo, a student of Blooming Buds Bethania School, Kunnamkulam.
“I have a variety of ornamental fish in three tanks, a pair of love birds and a few cats. They are my play pals now,” says Aaron. Almost all my friends have pets such as dogs, tortoises or rabbits, he adds.
It has been reported that the pet industry in the country will have a 13.5% growth in five years from the current annual turnover of $ 450 million.
Among pet animals, dogs, especially exotic breeds, are the first choice. Small- and medium-sized breeds such as pugs, beagles, golden retrievers, spitz, Pomeranian and dachshund are in high demand as they can be handled easily by children. Big dogs such as Labrador, German Shepherd, Dobermann, Great Dane and Rottweiler too are on demand. Lots of exotic cats too are being reared in the State.
Prices go up
Prices have soared as demand increased. Price of puppies has increased three to four times from pre-COVID days.
“I have been looking for a beagle puppy for my son for many months. They are in high demand. People are asking around ₹40,000 for a puppy,” says Shravan Paul of Thoyakavu.
Fostering and adoptions of dogs too have increased. But people are still going for exotic breeds. There are few takers for abandoned pups of local breeds, say animal organisations.
Ornamental birds, including parrots, cockatiel, budgerigar, cockatoos, love birds, finches, columbidae, canary, parakeets, domestic fowls and ducks too have many takers. Ornamental fish rearing is also acquiring momentum in the State.
The State is witnessing a rapid growth in pet industry and peripherals, including pet foods, accessories, toys, aquarium, plants, pet cages, medicines, nutraceuticals, cosmetics, soaps, shampoos, pet cloths and vaccines.
During the post-COVID-19 phase, more than a dozen super-specialty pet clinics and advanced laboratories were established in the State. Lot of entrepreneurs, including veterinary graduates, are involved in establishing these facilities, says T.P. Sethumadhavan, former director, Kerala Veterinary and Animal Sciences University.
“The State is facing a shortage of veterinarians, laboratory technicians and pet parlour technicians to meet the unprecedented growth in the sector,” he says.
Veterinary nursing is emerging as a potential sector that can create a lot of employment potential. Several State Governments are in the process of establishing veterinary nursing schools similar to those in developed countries. Pet analytics, pet mobile apps, publications, online portals, insurance, cosmetic surgeries, ophthalmology and dentistry are also emerging as potential areas in the sector, says Dr. Sethumadhavan.
Also, the number of students pursuing veterinary medicine programmes in the country and abroad are on the rise. Several students opt for veterinary science over medical or dental programmes, he adds.