Pet owners and retailers battle inflation

The pandemic sparked a spike in pet adoptions and a boom in business for pet supply retailers, but inflation is beginning to reverse those trends.

PORTLAND, OR. Inflation is hitting pet owners in the Portland area, driving up the cost of feeding and caring for four-legged family members.

Nationally, pet product costs have risen an average of 8.3% from a year ago, according to the US Department of Laborand pet care and service costs increased 7.8%.

The American Pet Products Association Announced in April that the industry hit an all-time high of $123.6 billion in sales in 2021, fueled by rising pet adoptions during the pandemic, but the same report warned that growth could slow in the second half of 2022 due to inflation. and supply chain issues.

Local pet owners, retailers and adoption agencies say those trends sound familiar.

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At a specialty pet food store Meat for Dogs and Cats in southeast Portland, owner Heidi Liedeker said she had to adjust her prices in response to frequent increases from manufacturers this year. All types of products have seen price increases, but the biggest impact has been on food, both dry croquettes and raw meat.

“I focus on raw pet food, so we’re dealing with the same meat suppliers that much of the human industry deals with,” he said. “I feel like every one of our manufacturers has had a price increase in the last two months, and those look anywhere from a dollar a product to a 15-20% markup.”

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Liedeker said it added a list of recent price increases behind the counter so customers can track changes. The store has always run promotions like volume discounts and frequent shopper cards, she said, but lately customers have been paying more attention and exploring their options.

“It’s hard to charge people more for something I know they need, so we do a lot of internal discounting to try to keep it affordable to feed a better diet,” he said.

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In the Oregon Humane Society In North Portland, operating costs for materials have increased on several fronts, from gloves and paper products to the locks used to secure kennels. Pet food donations are also down, according to public information manager Laura Klink.

“Usually we rely to some degree on food donations from big companies like Chewy.com and Amazon,” he said. “Those donations are down 25%, and where we really saw an impact is getting canned food donations, and even buying canned food has been a challenge.”

Rising costs are also taking a toll on pet owners, he said, particularly when combined with other inflationary shocks and the high cost of housing in Portland.

“We don’t have a lot of specific numbers, but anecdotally, we’ve definitely seen people having to give up their pets due to loss of housing, loss of job, etc., and that’s something we see on a regular basis. foundation,” she said.

The pet adoption rate in Portland hasn’t slowed in recent months, he said, but shelters in other parts of the state have seen an influx of animals. Some of those shelters are struggling with staffing challenges, she said, particularly a shortage of veterinary care providers.

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“I think the biggest problem we hear from pet owners, and even adopters, is finding a veterinarian and finding affordable veterinary care,” he said.

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During a recent visit to the Humane Society, Sasha Scanlan said her family had to switch to larger bulk food bags for their chihuahua a few months ago. But despite the cost increases, she and her daughters went to the Humane Society that day to adopt a second dog.

“Inflation is definitely a big problem right now, and that’s one of our biggest things coming in to make a purchase, is that yes, it’s money out of our pocket,” he said. “But we love little furry animals, so I guess we’ll just make it work.”

Others have had to wait to expand their pet families. At a dog park in Northwest Portland, Aaron Sherman said he and his fiancée have been thinking about adopting a second dog, but with pet food and vet costs rising for their first dog, they won’t be able to. do it in the short term. .

“The costs are simply astronomical. We’ve definitely had to get creative with their food, like splicing in some raw vegetables,” she said.