Animal Lovers: Have You Considered Starting One of These Businesses?

By Paula Fitzsimmons

Aspiring animal-loving entrepreneurs have more options than ever. Starting a business – any business – used to be more complicated and expensive. The growth of technology, service providers, and funding options have opened doors.

Yet there are some things innovation can’t replace. Business owners still need to possess a strong work ethic, patience, and tenacity. That never changes. Success is often gradual, and despite what the adverts say, doesn’t happen effortlessly or without a learning curve. I speak from experience.

If working for yourself – and including your love for animals into the mix –  is your dream, several suggestions follow. With the exception of the brick-and-mortar model these businesses require relatively low startup costs.


Cat with cat cafe sign
Start a shop to adopt

The popular cat cafe trend that originated in Eastern Asia has recently gained momentum in North America. Since Cat Town Cafe & Adoption of Oakland, California opened shop in 2014 new cafes have been sprouting up in places like Denver, Portland, and San Diego, to name a few.

By merging a cafe with an adoption center – the cafe owner partners with a shelter – guests get a bight to eat, unwind, play with cats, and hopefully adopt one.

Cat cafes may be new here, but similar models already exist. For example, the Aloft Asheville Downtown partners with Charlie’s Angels Animal Rescue to find homes for adoptable dogs. And you may have shopped at a companion animal supply store where the owner also offers adoption services. (To be clear, I’m talking about legitimate animal adoption services; not selling animals under the guise of adoption.)

The venue doesn’t have to be a cafe, and the animals offered for adoption can vary. What’s stopping you from starting a yoga studio or bed-and-breakfast?

There are a lot of things you’ll need to learn about and consider – partnering with a reputable animal shelter, licensing, zoning restrictions, health department regulations, and start-up funding.

If this type of business speaks to you, the Denver Cat Company offers advice.


Take dogs on an adventure

Think of adventure walking as dog walking turned up a notch. For example, Canine Adventures takes their clients’ dogs on adventures that include hiking, swimming, and rock hopping. Fun!

This business works especially well if you live near a park, agility course, beach, or somewhere where you can offer you dog – and human – clients something out of the ordinary.

Good read: “Want to Start a Solo Dog Walking Business? First Ask Yourself These 9 Questions” Includes links to additional resources.


An adventure dog walking biz goes well with other, similar services. Some ideas . . .

• Daycare, sitting, and boarding

• Concierge services. For instance, you can offer to check your client’s home while they’re away.

Animal massage & grooming

• Humane animal transport – to and from vet appointments, for instance.

Be mindful of licensing requirements for any of these services. Check out Pet Sitters International to learn more about this industry and network with other professionals.


Sell your goods

The growth of ecommerce service providers and venues such as Etsy and eBay has made selling online simpler than ever.

But this accessibility has also created a lot of competition, so it’s imperative that what you’re selling is unique. Getting caught in pricing wars and race-to-the-bottom situations is not conducive to making a profit.

You’ll have a better chance for success if your products are unique, preferably something you create yourself. For instance, Salvador Kitti creates and sells their own lines of vegan, animal-themed bags and accessories

Good read: “Should You Start a Home-based Animal Gift Store?”  Includes ideas on what to sell.


Hand drawn dog
License your art

Are you an an animal or nature artist? Consider licensing your work to companies for use on calendars, totes, book covers, and other items.

Marjolein Bastin, Paul Brent, and Charley Harper are a few names you may recognize – but other less-known artists are also profiting from their art. For instance, Whole Foods Market partners with Etsy sellers to create the artwork for some of their reusable grocery bags.

For guidance on how to profit from your animal art, check out


Help find missing companion animals

When a beloved family member is lost, your world stops. Finding animals is not easy, and searches could be futile. Which is why some people turn to missing animal response technicians – aka pet detectives – for help. Dogs have a keen sense of smell, giving them the gift of being able to find things we humans can’t.

Pet detectives also have access to high-tech equipment most of us don’t, like thermal imaging and night cameras.

If you and your beloved dog are up to the task and would like to offer this important service, Missing Pet Partnership offers training.

Forest leaf



Almost any career can be turned into a business. What’s your special skill or hobby? Do you like to write? Draw? Groom animals? Are you a veterinarian? We’re living in a gig economy, one in which an increasing number of people are taking the leap to work for themselves. Whichever business model you choose, make sure you do your due research. Join professional organizations, reach out to others, and find mentors (such as those offered by SCORE). Go slowly and be careful – but don’t be afraid of chasing your dream.

Cat with menu image credit (minus type): #109300857 from


  1. On the 5th March 2016, Flamingo Land will work in partnership with CIRCLE, a University of York founded project, to organise the second annual FlaminGO! 10k run, which will be held within the grounds of Flamingo Land Resort, Yorkshire. 600 people over the age of 16 from across the UK will have the chance of running past Flamingo Land’s most iconic attractions, including Mumbo Jumbo, the Guinness world record holder for the steepest rollercoaster in 2009. In this unique run, participants will also have the opportunity to pass by some of our zoo animal exhibits.

    The run aims to raise £6,000 profit for African forest conservation in Magombera forest, Tanzania, as part of CIRCLE’s Udzungwa Forest Project. So far, the donations raised have helped thousands of African villagers, promoting learning and development. This has been accomplished through educating local villagers on the value of forests for water and biodiversity. This is achieved through classroom teaching, film, newspaper articles, internet and a pedal-powered cinema, as well as providing ranger and conservation officer paid jobs. Prior to UFP, the villagers were unaware of these vital issues and are now on their way to being able to sustainably source the forest without damaging the environment that they call home and the species that they share it with, including the threatened Red Colobus Monkey and the Magombera Chameleon.

    We are looking for three primary sponsors for the event, who will become part of the FlaminGO! 10k Brand. This will include branding on all of our signs and running numbers and in our marketing of the run across newspapers, radio and online. We will also be providing goody bags to every runner at the end of the race, each consisting of a medal, bottled water, a health bar and leaflets/business cards advertising our sponsors should they wish.

    We are also looking for small donations of £50 from companies towards the run, who share our vision of achieving forest conservation and wish to be actively involved in its promotion. By sponsoring our run, you will be directly helping to save threatened species.

    For more information about what we do, please see or for information about any of these sponsoring opportunities, please do not hesitate to email either myself or the race director at

    We look forward to hearing from you.

    Best Wishes,

    Holly Little

  2. Great article! There actually numerous ideas about starting an enterprise based on animal help. We actually had an idea of setting up webcams in animal shelters and let people watch what is happening there and also help online, while watching live streams.
    We hope that our experience in that field could help, we would also include such opportunity in your blog if we were you.

  3. Some great ideas here, thanks Paula!

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