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Love Me, Love My Pet

Love Me, Love My Pet

Dating sites for animal lovers seeking the PURRfect partner.

Miles, a 48-year-old real estate developer, and Trina, his 45-year-old wife, were just embarking on a new marriage and a long, happy life together—or so they thought. But when they got home to their Fifth Avenue apartment from a romantic wedding trip to Europe, they found that the honeymoon was truly over.

Night after night, Trina’s two cats (who’d just moved in from Trina’s old place) would climb into the sack with them for their own 40 winks. “She didn’t mind if the cats slept on the bed, and I couldn't stand it,” Miles says. Heated arguments ensued. Finally, to save her fledgling marriage, Trina gave the cats away, but this left her so heartbroken that the marriage broke up anyway three months later. Trina says she may never be able to forgive Miles for pressuring her into what she did. “Those cats were my heart,” she says.

Trina and Miles could have avoided their breakup if they’d known each other’s feelings about animals before their very first date. (They might not have gone on it.) Let’s face it: Animal lovers are a different breed. They are willing to pay well to ensure that their pet has a great life. Based on new data from the American Pet Products Association (APPA) overall spending on pets is expected to increase by 5.1 percent and exceed $50 billion this year. Owners embrace their pets with everything from monogrammed sweaters and personalized food and water bowls to gifts on special occasions. The National Retail Federation estimated that more than 18 percent of American consumers would buy Valentine’s Day gifts for their pets this year. A 2002 Gallup survey found that majority of American pet-owners would not be willing to trade their dog or cat for $1 million. Almost a decade later, and in a tough economy, odds are they still would turn down the cash. Cheryl Renn, a New York nurse, said: “I wouldn’t even take a million dollars for my 21-year old cat, who is pissing all over the house.”

Because of countless sad stories like Miles and Trina’s, a host of dating sites have sprung up in recent years for single pet-owners committed to their animals. The founder of DateMyPet.com, Robert Yau, has written that after speaking with singles he was surprised to find out how many dates and relationships ended because the other person was not compatible with their love for their pets. “These range from ‘She hated my dog’s drooling’ to the classic ‘He thinks I’m crazy because I treat them like babies’,” he said. Sheryl Matthys, founder of LeashesandLovers.com, a site “where dog lovers meet,” says that “when you talk about your dog, it reveals a lot about you. Those first conversations usually include how your pet fits into your life. And in most cases, if you don’t like someone’s dog, there usually isn’t a second date.”

A number of dating web sites have been launched on the premise that pet owners share a special sensibility that they seek in a partner. At AnimalPeople.com, one member wrote that when she joined the site she had searched for men in their 50s and received numerous replies. “But one shined through.” He was a veterinarian. “We had an immediate connection. We exchanged pictures and a lot of email for a couple of months. He finally asked if he could meet me in person,” she wrote. As it turned out, he was looking for a woman who liked animals and wanted a “forever” relationship. The couple is now happily married and live with their dogs, horses, and goats.

Another woman, “Allie” (her screen name), joined EquestrianSingles.com “with a broken heart and no expectations.” She e-chatted with a number of men who owned or showed horses, but knew she wanted to be with someone who rode every day. Then she connected with a “good-looking and sweet” rancher/trainer. “I liked him from the start, until I saw where he lived—in Australia,” Allie wrote. “I emailed him thinking maybe we could swap training tips or he would just be someone I could talk horses with. Well, let me tell you from the first moment he called me ‘darlin’ I knew he was the one. We have been talking for four months now and I am moving to Australia.”