Pet industry still swamped after pandemic puppy boom

SIOUX FALLS, SD (KELO) — It’s been more than two years since the start of the pandemic, a time that had a permanent impact on many lives. While some of those changes have been challenging, other additions since the pandemic have also added plenty of joy.

“She’s two, a little over two,” Sioux Falls dog owner Ann Van Stedum said.

It’s an age of discovery plenty of pet parents understand.

“She’s our little pandemic puppy,” Van Stedum said.

Like many families, the Van Stedums decided to get a new puppy shortly after the pandemic began.

“She was such a positive thing and it gave the kids something to do and something that they could do together,” Van Stedum said. “I have three teenagers…when they were in the house together all day every day, it can get tense. So it was a good thing for them.”

“It was unbelievable, everyone that inquired actually wanted a dog. It wasn’t a matter of, oh I might want a dog or what kinds do you have, its was, we want a dog now,” Brittney Veurink, the owner of Doodles and Dors said.

During the pandemic puppy boom of 2020 dog breeders across KELOLAND were swamped with orders coming from all over the country.

“It was crazy, the puppies we had were spoken for and the next litter we were going to have, that was spoken for,” Veurink siad. “It was intense.”

There was so much demand, breeders of all sizes could charge just about anything for a puppy and still have people lining up on their wait list.

“We definitely made more money in 2020 than we have in any other year, easily,” Veurink said.

The pandemic puppy boom allowed Doodles and Dors, a small family business in rural South Dakota to expand their facility.

“In 2021 we did make the venture into getting a better, bigger building just to make the dogs more comfortable,” Veurink said.

While their breeding business is still going strong, they say demand has definitely slowed down since 2020.
“Our puppies have all found homes but it’s been a slower thing,” Veurink said.

While the puppy boom may be slowing, the surge of new pets during the pandemic continues to have a major impact on many animal industries.

“We probably take anywhere from 10 to 25 calls of people asking if we’re accepting new clients,” Kenydie Hyde with Glamor Paws Pet Grooming said.

Dog groomers are some of the hardest openings to find.

“We’re booked through the rest of this year and we have been have been since May of 2021,” Hyde said.

“As these puppies have gotten older and they’re still here, I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s one to two weeks for a routine vaccine appointment,” Sioux Falls Veterinarian Dr. Sara Hoffer.

Finding a vet in KELOLAND has also become a challenge since the pandemic puppy boom.

“At the emergency vet clinic I’ve heard you might be sitting there for four hours before you’re seen,” Hoffer said.

Like groomers, many vets have had to stop accepting new clients.

“We are seeing new patients, but we’re seeing so many,” Hoffer said.

Dr. Sara Hoffer with South Central Veterinary Clinic says she’s nearly tripled her client list since 2020, with many pandemic puppy owners coming in for the same concerns.

“Definitely some separation anxiety, their owners have gone back to the office and the dogs don’t know how to act when they’re home alone,” Hoffer said.

It a big reason the demand for doggy daycare has also seen a big increase in Sioux Falls.

“We have a long wait list for our daycare, even after opening a second building,” Allison Wyant with Paws Pet Resort said. “We’ve talked with a lot of parents and clients who got their dog during the pandemic and they just want a place for it to play and hang out during the day.”

Pandemic Puppies were also the inspiration behind the Puppy University program at Paws Pet Resort.

“Allowing a space where we can grow well-trained dogs has provided confidence for parents and for the dogs and just living well together,” Wyant said.

Proof that the pets added to so many families during the pandemic mean more than a moral boost through a lonely, challenging time.

“This isn’t a one- or two-year thing, this isn’t like get to the end of the pandemic and then we’re done. This is a lifelong commitment caring for this animal,” Wyant said.

The Sioux Area Humane Society says many pandemic pet owners have taken that commitment seriously as the number of surrendered pets didn’t see any major increases over the past two years.

“She’s definitely the best after effect of the pandemic,” Van Stedum said.

Through all the challenges of the past two years, these pets a bright reminder of the good that came of this unique time in history. Now even as adolescents, they’re still bringing years of joy to the families they joined during the pandemic.

“We love her to pieces,” Van Stedum said.

Veterinarians are preparing for continued impacts of the pandemic puppies throughout their lifetime, health care that will become even more in demand as the one time puppies become senior citizens roughly a decade from now.

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