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Poll: Almost half of pet owners carry photos of their pets with them in wallets, mobile devices

May 26, 2010 |  3:03 pm

Dogpark1 The next time someone reaches for photos and offers: "Let me show you some pictures of my little darlings," you might be surprised who's mugging for the camera.

According to a recent Associated Press-Petside.com poll, nearly half (45%) of all pet owners say they carry around photos of their pets -- in wallets, purses,  cellphones, laptops, iPods, iPads and other mobile devices.

Dog owners (48%) are a bit more likely than cat owners (37%) to carry pet pictures with them, and women (52%) are more likely than men (36%).

Over half of those under age 50 say they carry pet pictures, but the number diminishes with age. Just under a quarter of those age 65 and up still carry such photos.

Tigger, a 6-year-old Persian cat, is such a fashion plate and so agreeable that Larry Beal of Newburyport, Mass., can't help but take photos. "Plus we love him," the 66-year-old former teacher said.

"He will do anything you ask him to. My wife dresses him in all kinds of doll clothing and stuff. He wears costumes for Easter and Thanksgiving and Halloween and Christmas and all sorts of things," Beal said.

Beal carries most of the photos in his cellphone because he doesn't use a wallet. But he does carry a portrait of Tigger in a plastic sleeve in his pocket secretary. Refrigerator magnets and framed photos of the cat are all around his house. He's only too happy to share pictures of Tigger with friends and acquaintances.

"Usually someone else starts it," he said. "Then after they tell me about theirs, I say, 'Well, look at what we have.'"

But Tigger and his four-legged friends are still on the outside looking in, according to the poll conducted by GfK Roper Public Affairs & Media.

Almost all women -- 90% -- say they carry pictures of their children, as do 80% of men, including David Jeter, 51, of Los Angeles.

Jeter is married with two sons, ages 9 and 13, and a 6-year-old yellow Lab named Lucky. He has uploaded lots of photos from his digital camera to his global Blackberry, but Lucky didn't make the cut.

Because he travels all over the world and sometimes doesn't see acquaintances for six or 12 months at a time, he carries the boys' pictures so he can update them.

"The only people who have ever shown me pictures of their animals were people without kids. That recently happened in a business meeting. Everyone started showing pictures of their kids and there was one guy who didn't have kids but he was talking about his dogs," Jeter said.

There are family photos on Jeter's refrigerator, on his computer screensaver and in frames around the house. His favorite is one of everyone (except Lucky) on vacation in Bhutan in the Himalayas.

Jeter said he's not likely to take out his phone and start looking at pictures when he's traveling. "It makes me homesick. I try to avoid it because then I start remembering where I am not at."

Jamie Veitch, 42, of Oklahoma City, Okla., carries a few photos of her dogs, Sister, 16, and Pappy, 9, in her cellphone. She keeps lots more in her laptop.

"It's important because I don't have children and they are my babies," she said. Her favorite photo was taken about three years ago when she had five small dogs (three have since died) and she took them to a pet store for a photo with Santa Claus. That picture still holds a special place on her refrigerator.

About a year ago, she had a double organ transplant (kidney and pancreas) and was hospitalized out of state for six weeks. She didn't look at pictures.

"I had my phone but I was mostly on drugs," Veitch said. Thinking about her pets helped more than pictures, and talking to the people who were taking care of them helped even more, she said. "They didn't like it when Mama was gone."

Marie Camenzind, 45, of San Carlos, Calif., carries iPhone photos of her daughters, 8 and 10, Blackjack Meow, the family's 16-year-old cat, the kids' guinea pigs and lots of fish.

"We're a picture family. That's how we are. My husband more than me, he's always pulling out the camera. We like to share them. When the kids are young, you want to capture everything," Camenzind said.

She said her daughters are always grabbing her phone to shoot pictures of the pets, so the animals are well represented, but she worries about losing her phone and all the photos in it.

Camenzind said she uses her photos for screensavers and, "I've always been a big refrigerator person." But her wallet doesn't have a plastic photo holder, so she doesn't have a collection of paper photos.

"The plastic picture holders are things of the past. I am going to start collecting them because they'll probably be worth money someday," she joked.

She's right about the plastic sleeves being so yesterday.

"With the digital age upon us, many of our customers do carry photos and pics of their kids or loved ones on their phones, BlackBerries, iPhones, etc., so the demand for specific 'picture holders' has dropped significantly over the past few years," said Francine Della Badia, North America senior vice president of merchandising, planning and allocations for Coach.

On the other hand, a picture frame keyfob sold so well around Mother's Day, Coach had to take it off their website because inventories got too low, she said.

The AP-Petside.com Poll was conducted April 7-12, 2010, and involved landline and cellphone interviews with 1,112 pet owners nationwide. It has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.3 percentage points.

RELATED POLLS OF PET LOVERS:
Poll: More than half of survey respondents say they plan to adopt their next pet from a shelter
One-third of married women say their pet is a better listener than their spouse, poll finds

-- Sue Manning, Associated Press

Photo: OK, so this picture of Django isn't technically in a wallet -- but it could be. Credit: Robert Black

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