When Jodi Jaunich's dog, Kasey, got sick from a food allergy, the 29-year-old Chicago pet owner spent months researching nutrition and holistic treatments for animals. Convinced health foods and alternative treatments could benefit four-legged creatures as much as the two-legged variety, she quit her job as a business consultant, took $50,000 of her own money and opened Galloping Gourmutts, a combination bakery and health-food store for animals and their health-conscious owners.
In addition to offering a variety of all-natural supplements and remedies for common ailments like kennel cough and ringworm, Galloping Gourmutts sells bakery treats Jaunich makes (and taste-tests) herself--goodies like canine cannolis, drumsticks, pretzels and bagels loaded with ingredients like cheese, peanut butter, veggies and apples. Opened in late 1997, the store rang up close to $150,000 in sales its first year, and Jaunich projects sales of $200,000 by the end of 1999.
In the $21 billion-a-year pet industry, there seems to be no limit to how much people will spend on their animals and no end to their quest for new and different products or services to make Fuzzy or Fifi happy. There are businesses that will throw pets birthday parties, take studio-quality portraits of them and even make Fido a star: One Chicago-area entrepreneur runs a modeling agency just for animals. And when all the fun is over, professional pooper scoopers will step in, so to speak, to clean up what's, er, left over.
"People are addicted to their pets," says C.C. Risenhoover, publisher of Pet Life, a magazine in Fort Worth, Texas, "and they'll make sacrifices, even in a difficult economy, to care for them,"