Cats: Enemies of Technology

Dogs and cats cause $3 billion in damage to electronics annually.

American dogs and cats destroy or damage an estimated 8 million personal electronic devices at a cost of $3 billion annually, according to protection plan provider SquareTrade.

“After seeing so many claims come in that involved pets, we decided to look into the data and see just how big the problem was,” said Ty Shay, chief marketing officer at the San Francisco company. “The results were pretty astounding.”

SquareTrade surveyed 1,000 pet owners to identify the frequency of pet-caused damage to electronics. The results were released June 25.

In a second sample, 400 pet owners identified the costs associated with mutilated electronics. The numbers revealed that pets did an average of $375 worth of damage to electronic devices.

The most commonly damaged devices are smartphones.

“Using an $800 smartphone as a chew toy is a pricey slipup, not to mention it’s the device most of us can’t live without,” Shay said.
Seventy-five percent of the damaged or destroyed electronics were not covered by insurance.

A common smartphone repair is the replacement of a spider-webbed touch screen. The repair can cost hundreds of dollars.
Chewing, vomiting or urinating on electronics were the most commonly cited accidents along with the owners dropping a device when a pet jumped up.

Two-thirds of the pets that damaged an electronic device had been left unsupervised, the survey found.

Ginger McDevitt of Warner Robins, Ga., may have lost more electronic devices in the past year to her dog than any other SquareTrade customer. McDevitt’s male Irish wolfhound, Oisin, chewed apart a Kindle, two cell phones, a digital camera and a camcorder.

“This is a record out of the customers I’ve spoken to,” said Jessica Hoffman, director of communications at SquareTrade.  

The company discovered that frequent offenders are male pets, overweight and overprotective pets, and animals that appeared to be getting even with their owners.

In conjunction with the survey, SquareTrade held “The Pet Confessions” Facebook contest. Users were urged to submit photos of their mischievous pet and a note “from them” apologizing for the wrongdoing.

The winner of an iPad was Elizabeth Lynch of Bedford, Va., whose border collie, Rocky, made short work of her Kindle.

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