June 27, 2022
The number of pet owners surged during COVID-19. Although the exact percentage differs among sources, the pet industry reported a three to four percent increase in the number of families who introduced furry family members in 2020 and 2021.
As product liability lawyers, we are always on the lookout for products that could bring harm to our families—toys with toxic lead paint, seatbelts that malfunction, medications that cause harm. But what about our furry family members? Are we equally as vigilant about the products that can cause them harm? A quick Google™ search reveals that the potential harm to our furry family members looms large.
The manufacture and sale of pet products is big business. In 2020, the pet industry recorded sales of $103.6 billion, an increase of $6.5 billion since 2019. Of that, $42 billion was spent on pet food & treats. While the Food & Drug Administration is responsible for regulating animal drugs, feeds/foods, and medical devices, it does not regulate animal grooming products, toys, and clothing, which are generally overseen by other governmental agencies that regulate consumer goods such as the Consumer Product Safety Commission and the Federal Trade Commission.
With 70 percent of U.S. households (90.5 million homes) reporting ownership of at least one pet supporting a $103.6 billion-dollar, quasi-regulated marketspace, the potential for product liability claims should not be overlooked.