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Pets: Scourge of BYOD

Pets damage some $3 billion worth of electronic devices in the U.S. every year. For the average consumer, this leads to an unexpected expense, but for those who BYOD, it can be a massive problem.
(Source: SquareTrade)

We are a nation of pet lovers, but it seems that our beloved cats and dogs might be jealous of the time we spend looking at our smartphones and tablets, so much so that some are taking things into their own paws.

According to a new survey by warranty provider SquareTrade, pets have bitten, chewed, licked, drooled upon and otherwise damaged more than 8 million devices, estimated to be worth some $3 billion. 

Smartphones are the worst-hit, accounting for one third of all devices damaged by pets.

"After seeing so many claims come in that involved pets, we decided to look into the data and see just how big a problem this was. And the results were pretty astounding," said Ty Shay, CMO at SquareTrade, in a statement to ZDNet. "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."

Damage comes in a variety of forms.

  • Chewing: Two-thirds of the accidents are caused by the pet putting the item in their mouth.
  • Causing owner to drop the device: 21 percent of accidents happened while the owner was using the device.
  • Vomiting / peeing: About 1 in 6 cat or dog owners say that one of their pets has thrown up on or gone to the bathroom on one of their electronics.

One big standout factor that increases the likelihood of damage is supervision. According to SquareTrade, fully two-thirds of the device 'accidents' occurred while the pet was unsupervised.

Crunching the numbers further, SquareTrade highlighted several factors that increased the risk to devices. These include:

  • Dogs are twice as likely as cats to cause accidents or damage.
  • Male pets are 50 percent more likely than female pets to damage your devices.
  • 17 percent of pet owners believe that their pet damaged the device because it was angry with them.
  • Overweight pets are 72 percent more likely to have a pet-related accident.
  • Overprotective pets are also a problem, and are twice as likely to damage your devices.
(Source: SquareTrade)

While a chewed smartphone or a peed on tablet might be a huge inconvenience for a consumer, for someone using that device in a BYOD setting, effects can be enormous. There's the impact it has of productivity, there's the denial of access to the corporate infrastructure, not to mention the possibility of data being lost.

While having a warranty might help ease the effect that a disgruntled pet can have on your wallet, I believe that prevention and planning is better than the cure. My advice is to keep BYOD devices away from pets (and small children), and give them some additional protection by kitting them out with a decent case. Also, keep devices nearby at all times, and don't leave them unsupervised.

Also, pets are just a small part of the equation. Keep in mind other risks, such as breakage or malfunction, theft and loss of the device. All these can have a profound effect on those who BYOD.

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