It's A dog's World
The rising status of pets has started an unprecedented wave of entrepreneurship around the globe, and the growing number of dog lovers is partially due to the vast numbers empty-nesters, single professionals and couples who delay having children.
With more people working from home or living away from their families, pets play a bigger role in allaying the isolation of modern life, including providing security.
The phrase, ' a dog's life', once meant sleeping outdoors, enduring the elements, living with aches, and waiting for a few scraps to eat. Today's dogs enjoy a better existence so, it stands to reason that there's money to be made from this situation.
International companies from Proctor & Gamble and NestlÈ to fashion brands, including Polo by Ralph Lauren, and thousands of small entrepreneurs are sniffing around for new opportunities in the pet sector.
And why not? After consumer electronics, pet care is the fastest-growing category in retail in the United States of America and the United Kingdom, followed by Brazil.
Now the second-largest pet population in the world, despite recent economic woes resulting in a large gross domestic product decline in 2015, Brazil still saw its pet market rank third in the world with $5.4 billion in revenue last year.
In Jamaica, entrepreneur Jennifer Mahfood Forte, is part of those who are encouraging dog parenting and closing the quality gap between two-legged and four-legged mammals.
"Jamaicans like many other pet owners around the world are no longer seeing their dogs as extensions of the household but as part of the household - thereby recognising that they have feelings and needs just like humans," said Mahfood Forte.
"However, when I first started my pet business 35 years ago, the population was not into animals. Very few people recognised their pets as part of the family and so treated them with indifference. Fast forward to 2016, things are now brighter. Clients are now coming to me and acknowledging their pets as part of the family and treating them accordingly," she said.
Mahfood Forte told The Gleaner, "As a little girl I always took care, nursed and loved my pets. I always wanted to look after dogs. I got my first job in a local humane society as a vet assistant, where I was able to observe abused animals. I was hungry to learn any and everything about animals," she said.
The Biscayne Paramedical Institute graduate received an associate degree in Veterinary Tech Medicine. She returned to Jamaica in 1981 after a seven-year stint at a Florida-based veterinarian's office where she gained first-hand experience.
"Jamaica was calling me. With my training and experience, I opened a grooming office as a health care advisor to security companies. This gave birth to "It's A Dogs World Limited". I started a vet tech programme taking care of and teaching preventative care and animal husbandry."
Services offered include: "short/long term boarding, doggie day care, grooming, house/ obedience/puppy/aggression training; along with dog walking.
Mahfood Forte launched Smart Line Pets Products some 20 years ago after inventing a flee and tic shampoo to groom her clients, but demand grew.
"My brother worked for T.Geddes Grant and told me his company had a cosmetic group and if I was interested, I could expand and make my products with them." Counting her blessings Mahfood Forte added, "Cosmetics International have been my manufacturers ever since."
The dog lover said Smart Line Pets Products is a line of Jamaican made products made by contracting manufacturers. "I work with a chemist and together we formulate shampoos and wound powder. We are constantly refining, tweaking and reinventing the products. We are currently reformulating our shampoos to add more moisture," she said.
"I have also formulated my own wound powder because I needed a more versatile product that could be used on white dogs and young pups. The powders on the market were too strong and stained the dog's coats. I wanted mine to be as close to white as possible and to have some special healing agents."
Her products appeal to pet parents across the Caribbean and are sold in Jamaica in supermarkets and pharmacies. They have gained the approval veterinarians and Mahfood Forte's aim is to make the best products in the Caribbean. Her company and dynamic team are considered as pioneers within the animal care industry.