While the specter of sequestration has government workers worried about the possibility of pay cuts and furloughs, service industries like pet day care businesses and dog walkers are also bracing for a bite to their bottom lines.
Katie Wright has successfully built her dog walking business from a one-person shop to four staffers during the past 18 months.
It’s something she’s proud of, and many residents of the Old Town community and elsewhere rely on Fairy Dogmom’s services to help them care for their dogs while they are away from home during the workday.
"We work with many clients that work for government agencies and this has the potential to interrupt our service and affect our bottom line,” said Wright. “When owners are home they typically walk their own dogs. It's great for the dogs to have their companions at home, but not so great for dog-walking companies that rely on the income."
The threat to Wright's bottom line -- and survival -- underlines how sequestration is already impacting not only government employees and services, but also businesses that benefit from having a large concentration of federal workers in their back yard. In government-saturated Virginia, a sequestration study by George Mason University found, up to 207,000 jobs could be lost.
Paul Haire, owner of dog care and boarding small business Your Dog’s Best Friends in Del Ray said sequestration will affect his firm, too.
“It’s something I think about, and it’s a conversation that took place at the dinner table of a friend’s last night with a defense contractor. …We would feel the affect at the margins,” said Haire, who is also a former Senate staffer and an economist by training.
“People will be staying home for the fifth day of the week. For most of my clients, the care that we give their dog is a high priority…but they may skip a vacation” due to the pay cuts, he said.
He noted that sequestration also will diminish the amount of business travel workers go on, also affecting their need for daytime services like dog care.
Becky's Pet Care owner Becky O'Neil, whose firm serves the Northern Virginia area, said she is concerned about the affect sequestration could have on her business - and all businesses in the area.
"If it happens, it could have a devastating effect on our local economy," she said. "However, we do believe that people’s pets are a core part of their lives and that they will continue to provide the best possible care for them. We certainly hope that our elected officials will be able to come to an agreement and that we can avoid sequestration."
NOVA Professional Pet Sitters Network said on Old Town Alexandria Patch’s Facebook page in response to a call for comments about sequestration: “I agree it probably won't happen. But if it did, it may have an impact on our member business. We depend on people going to work so we can walk the dogs!”
For more on sequestration, see:
- Kaine: Sequestration to Affect Education Funding in Virginia
- McDonnell: Sequester Could Force Virginia into Recession