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Teen Trend Report

Report on Teens and Animals / Pets

Report Background:

Student Essays about AnimalsFrom our international student survey, we discovered that nearly 91% of all teenagers and college students own or have owned pet

Jon Katz said, “Animals have come to mean so much in our lives.  We live in a fragmented and disconnected culture.  Politics are ugly, religion is struggling, technology is stressful, and the economy is unfortunate. What’s the one thing we have in our lives that we can depend on? A dog or a cat loving us unconditionally every day, very faithfully.”

Immanuel Kant said, “We can judge the heart of a man by his treatment of animals.”

Animals play a huge role in our lives.  From the dogs barking in our apartment buildings, to our mom’s cat that she seems to love more than her children, to our terrifying experiences being flipped off of a horse at camp, to animal activism, to encounters with animals in the wild.

For our April 2015 writing contest, we asked over 6,000 students to submit personal essays that focus on a pet or animal story and take our international student survey about pets and animals.

You'll find the top essays as well as statistics about this topic from our student survey below.
  If you like what you see in this exclusive report, please explore our other Teen Trends analyses on student issues ranging from mobile apps to unsung heroes. would like to thank Papa John's, Applebee's and IHOP for helping to sponsor this report and writing contest.

Applebee's - Education Sponsor   IHOP - Education Sponsor   Education essay sponsor - Papa John's

Teen Trend Report Overview:
  • Trend Report about TeensVISITS:  Over 6,400 teens and college students visited the writing contest during the month's writing prompt (April 2015) from across the US (all 50 states) and dozens of international countries.

  • ESSAY THEMES:  Out of all of the topics discussed, several major themes were collectively revealed by teens in their essays about pets. 
  • Writing contest for high school students

    100+ teen bloggers submitted a qualifying essay to the writing prompt that asked them to share a story about animals 
  • ESSAY WINNER:  Place winners, along with Runners Up and finalists were selected. 

PART I Statistics about Teens and Pets / Animals

Before submitting their writing contest essay, teens were asked to complete a survey containing some questions about animals.  Here are the teen statistics from the survey from the hundreds of students who fully completed the poll.  If you want to view the full data report and corresponding graphs, you'll find them on our Survey Results Web Page for Teens and Animals Graphs and Data Charts.
  • Types of Pets that Teenagers Own91% of teens have owned a pet.  The types of pets owned are...
    • Dog - 71%
    • Fish - 60%
    • Cat - 42%
    • Other - 24%
    • Bird - 22%
    • Rabbit - 21%
    • Hamster - 20%
    • I Never Owned a Pet - 7%
    • Horse - 6%
    • Snake - 5%
  • My Family Was Against Owning a Pet was the #1 reason (34%) of why students did not own an animal.  Other top reasons included allergies (30%) and pets cost too much money (21%).
  • 89.5% of students support animal rights.
  • 67% of teens prefer dogs over cats.
  • Statistics about teens and petsSPCA / Animal Shelter was the #1 location for the where students' families bought their pet (24.8%) followed by pet stores (21%) and as a gift from a family member (18%).  Receiving pets from a farm, ads in the newspaper or Craigslist were the last ranked sources for purchasing a pet.
  • 38% of teenagers report that it's "sad" to visit a zoo instead of "fun."
  • 66 of young people report that a pet's death is the hardest thing about owning an animal, compared to things like day-to-day care, the cost, the slobber or other reasons.
  • What is Your Favorite Animal?  371 students answered this question - which didn't have to be pet related.  To see all of the responses, download the full survey report via the PDF icon below or you can view all of the data online on our Teens and Animals survey results web page
Statistics about Teens and AnimalsTo read the full survey results, click the PDF icon to view or save the free download.

SOURCE:  All statistics above were collected by as part of its monthly teen trend reports containing statistics and writing contest prompt responses from teens on real world issues.


After taking the survey, students submitted their writing contest essays to  From the qualifying teen essay submissions, several themes emerged:

Themes and Trends from the Animal Essays:
Teenagers and their Pets
  • Family: Pets are more than possessions—they’re family. All teens who submitted a story agreed that pets have a special place in their family as close friends. Animals know how to bring you joy and keep you entertained.
  • Saviors: In addition to entertainment, pets often know when their human is feeling down. Many teens wrote about how their pets helped them out of a tough time in their lives. They couldn’t have made it through the sadness without comfort from their best friend.
  • Teachers: Many teens noted that their animals taught them valuable lessons—sometimes beyond the usual perks of responsibility. These students wrote about the value of patience and taking things one day at a time. If your pet isn’t in a rush, why should you be?
  • Protectors: Beyond providing emotional support, some pets—especially big dogs—provide physical protection as well. And as a thanks for animals helping us, we should create legislation to protect animals. After all, these teens agree that animals deserve our help.

PART III:  Read the Teen Stories and Essays about Animals

Teen BloggersImmediately below, you'll find links to the winning essay, our runners-up, semi-finalists, and all qualifying essays from college students and teenagers answering the prompt to share a story about the importance of animals and pets in their lives.

Please take a few moments to read an essay or two, especially our winner, runners-up, and finalists.

If you have the time, make a comment on the essays you enjoyed the most.  We know the student writers will love hearing your positive input (they'll get an email notifying them if you comment on their writing contest entry).

Writing contest winnerWriting Contest Winner & Finalists

First Place:

Animals: Duke of all Trades by agrace (Her parents surprised her with a puppy) student essay writers2nd Place: 

Animals: Of Fish and Men by derek.wan.5 (This teen found himself waxing poetic while feeding his fish)

3rd Place (tie):

Animals: Homeless Dogs in Ethiopia by dagmawi (People nourish homeless dogs with love and affection)
Animals: The Fin-less Shark Incident by Scales (He remembers watching a family friend cut a shark’s fin)

Writing Contest Runners UpRunners Up (in no particular order) writing contest submissions

    Teen writing contest enteries

    Read All Qualifying Teen & College Essays for the Writing Contest
    The essays below were all written by Stage of Life teen writers for this monthly student writing contest.  They are listed in no particular order or ranking.

    All Teen Essays about Animals and Pets

    Essays about Dogs

    1. Animals: They Can Save Our Lives by kmerken21 (Her dog helped her through a dark time in her life)
    2. Animals: Our pulse, ar chuisle by ares1 (She remembers being chased by a “vicious” dog)
    3. Animals: Dachshund by Bojun Yang (Pets are the best listeners)
    4. Animals: A Girl’s Best Friend by crystalmondragon (Her dog can be aggressive, but he can also be sweet)
    5. Animals: My Best Friend by Erika (Her family has raised a variety of animals over the years, but her favorite is Speedy the dog)
    6. Animals: Make the World a Better Place by berny (Her puppy was accidentally poisoned)
    7. Animals: Niko the Miracle by NishaPooh (This teen took her puppy to the movies)
    8. Animals: The Forgotten Impact by nicolewalks_ (Her pets have helped her through the hard times)
    9. Animals: Hug Your Pets A Little Tighter by flyleafet9 (She had to sadly put down her best friend and baby)
    10. Animals: The True Heart of a Person by Urbana (A pet is a part of your heart and soul)
    11. Animals: Nico by _Yaqui_ (Her dog used to make her feel special)
    12. Animals: Beloved friend by sarai villatoro (Her brother surprised the family with a pit bull puppy)
    13. Animals: My Pet Dog by Jmoran-360 (This teen learned valuable responsible lessons from raising a puppy)
    14. Animals: The Pet that was Never Mine by Macster25 (This teen used to let random animals into the house to mess with mom)
    15. Animals: A friend you can depend on by tiara.dezarn (Her new dog always brightens her day)
    16. Animals: Homeless Dogs in Ethiopia by dagmawi (People nourish homeless dogs with love and affection)
    17. Animals: I Love My Dog by irian123 (She was devastated when her dog died)
    18. Animals: We love ours, but not others by tiptopyup (Not all people view pets the same way)
    19. Animals: Lift Your Spirits by Holly2000 (Her dog loves to be fed and cuddle)
    20. Animals: The Story of Prince by Tj Hughes (His dog got bitten by a poisonous snake)
    21. Animals: Kahuna the Dachshund by CherokeeJune (She remembers when her dog first looked in the mirror)
    22. Animals: Max, a fighter dog by palika rastogi (Her poor puppy successfully battled parvo)
    23. Animals: ‘Ilene’ On You, You Lean On Me by iliv34music12 (Her brother’s service dog makes all the difference for this family)
    24. Animals: Shelby by zchmrtn (All animals deserve a chance)
    25. Animals: Bear’s Cancer by pennyproblem (She didn’t say goodbye to the dog she loved so dearly)
    26. Animals: Not Right Now by amy.junus (This teen doesn’t have the time for a dog right now)
    27. Animals: Love and Cherish Them Forever by skater4eva (She lost her best friend when she was very young)
    28. Animals: The one I miss by Monica Jackson (She didn’t know how much she’d miss her dog until he died)
    29. Animals: A Friendly Phantom by shreena (She used to be afraid of dogs)
    30. Animals: A Dog Tail by Parisamus (This teen got a special prize for going to the dentist)
    31. Animals: Antidotes for sadness by Zainab_15 (“Happiness is a warm puppy”)
    32. Animals: George and the Hotel Breakfast Buffet by masbackg (She was touched by a starving puppy on a trip to Greece)
    33. Animals: Boston Terrier Memories by Maria Cendejas (This teen remembers some of her favorite puppies)
    34. Animals: Dingo Was His Name-o by Gabriela.silva (All dogs go to heaven)
    35. Animals: Faithful Companions by lpeltier16 (This teen remembers when her grandparent’s dog passed away)
    36. Animals: More Like Family by haileyrobinson18 (Her dog was attacked by another animal)
    37. Animals: Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door by blackhawksfan96 (Appreciate every waking moment with your dog)
    38. Animals: D.O.G.=B.F.F. by aftertree (Dogs are loyal friends who keep you safe)
    39. Animals: Duke of all Trades by agrace (Her parents surprised her with a puppy)
    40. Animals: Are they all they’ve cracked up to be? by camilla.marais (She considers herself to be a non-animal person)
    41. Animals: The Black and The White by lgoehring18 (She loves her dogs with all her heart)
    42. Animals: Faithful Companion by gencom (Her dog can sense when she is not feeling well)
    43. Animals: A Relational Ambiguity by jennie.stephenson.79 (Why do we treat wolves differently than dogs?)
    44. Animals: Man’s Best Friend by anjushajan (Her dog provides her with therapy)
    45. Animals: The beginning of a new life by paola.amezcua (Her dog gave birth to puppies and almost didn’t make it)
    46. Animals: My Teacher by quinrosema (Her dog changed the way she sees the world)
    47. Animals: The Perfect Humans by serimjeong (Dog is a delicacy in Korea)
    48. Animals: Little Guy by Irlanda Silva (Her puppy had a virus)
    49. Animals: Not Displays or Possessions, but Family by puma0802 (Most dogs these days are made by humans)
    50. Animals: Dog in the Desert by sabrinarose (Her family found her dog as a dehydrated puppy in the desert)
    51. Animals: Arya—Smart, Sassy and Loves Knives by KaitMags (She is a sassy but true friend)

    Essays about Cats

    1. Animals: If Only I Wasn’t Afraid by Bluebells16 (She had an awful dream about losing her kitten)
    2. Animals: Oreo by Fatumah (Her poor cat was hit by a car)
    3. Animals: Love at First Sight by Aunty (Her cat makes her life colorful and happy)
    4. Animals: Cats are amazing in their own way by ronisha (She thought she lost her cat)
    5. Animals: Bounties of affection… by sehgalakku (This teen wanted to protect a pet from harm)
    6. Animals: A Cat’s Loyalty by amelia.nadira (Her family has nine cats in her house)
    7. Animals: Little Orange Furball by kiersten1339 (She didn’t think she could replace her first cat)
    8. Animals: Your TRUE Relationship Goals by gabbyd459 (Dogs and cats are both very loyal, but she prefers cats)
    9. Animals: She’s More Than A Cat by angelica.christine (Her cat was kidnapped, but found her way back home)
    10. Animals: Reflecting on the First Half Hour of a Four Hour Car Ride with a Group of Strangers by malbs (This teen doesn’t like cats)
    11. Animals: My Older Brother was a Cat by Brina (This teen loves her protective cat)
    12. Animals: He doesn’t get it by Jolene (Her cat always wants to play in the middle of the night)
    13. Animals: The Warrior Cat by Rita (She remembers taking care of homeless cats)
    14. Animals: Man’s Best Teachers by Eli_Winchester (His cat taught him lots of lessons, including how to learn more easily)
    15. Animals: The Wonder of Life by rrwink (Her family raised barn cats)
    16. Animals: Cats and death by jd0g1491 (Animal deaths leave positive memories)
    17. Animals: A Long-Lived Misunderstanding by noah.weiner.3 (This teen accidentally grew fond of the neighbor cat)
    18. Animals: Goodbye Beautiful by LindseyL (She lost her poor kitten overnight)
    19. Animals: Life of the Finite by AvertAvarice (Cats live only for pleasure, not for others, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t love them)
    20. Animals: Part of the Family by vchswarrior (Her pets help her relax and have fun)
    21. Animals: Life Enhancements or Life Examples? by marinheacock (Her cat and fish have an unusual friendship)
    22. Animals: The Day I Became a Superhero by Sofie Olson (Cats are natural predators)

    Essays about Birds

    1. Animals: How a grouchy parakeet and timid cat kept my family and I from crumbling by Nightingem (Her family suffered when her dad left, but was kept together by two odd pets
    2. Animals: The Bird on Christmas Eve by leslye390 (Animals are amazing creatures)
    3. Animals: The Owl from Nowhere by smckenzie3245 (This teen saw a snow white owl while out with her family)
    4. Animals: Particular Parakeets by Cody Brooks (This teen will never forget his first birds)

    Essays about Fish

    1. Animals: The Forgotten Fish by Tigress (This teen learned a tough lesson while taking care of a Siamese fighting fish)
    2. Animals: Of Fish and Men by derek.wan.5 (This teen found himself waxing poetic while feeding his fish)
    3. Animals: Always with me by nbhaskar (This teen’s best friend was a red betta fish)
    4. Animals: The Fin-less Shark Incident by Scales (He remembers watching a family friend cut a shark’s fin)
    5. Animals: Part of our family by nicolege (Her family raised anchovies)
    6. Animals: Fish… Yay… by aquon12 (Fish help children learn about death)

    Essays about Horses and Donkeys

    1. Animals: The Teachings of Equus by Wolfy (This teen opened up after working around horses)
    2. Animals: Clumsy Like a Donkey by _asshleyyy (She remembers falling off of a donkey on a ride)
    3. Animals: Crying in the Manmade House by vvvvvvicky (Animals have emotions just like people)
    4. Animals: Unbridled Hope by Xiaotang (She volunteers with horses to help people with disabilities)

    Essays about Reptiles and Small Animals

    1. Animals: Meep and Donut by anna0331 (She loves her hamsters dearly)
    2. Animals: My Smart, Yet Silly, Turtle by tueller42 (Her turtle, S, has perseverance)
    3. Animals: No Magician’s Prop by Gingersnap (This teen only had a short time with new furry friend)
    4. Animals: Got Trapped by Memories by Sun_nuS (She tragically remembers her rabbit’s death)
    5. Animals: Love isn’t Mutual by meghan4 (She never got along with the family rabbit)
    6. Animals: My Thousand Dollar Guinea Pig by carley.madson (This teen found a guinea pig on the side of the road)
    7. Animals: Ants and the Burdens of War by Bander (He remembers watching ants battle)
    8. Animals: The story of death by sydneynfrank (Her hamster escaped her cage)
    9. Animals: The Responsibility of Owning a Pet by thetechnorecord (This teen learned how hard it was to take care of a ball python)
    10. Animals: The Best Friends by faythlyon (She owned hedgehogs and sugar gliders)
    11. Animals: Saved by a Rat by superM (Her rat upped her mood and popularity)

    Essays about Animals (Misc.)

    1. Animals: Perhaps I’m in the Minority Here… by Lifexlove (The idea of a pet is not very attractive to this teen)
    2. Animals: Their Status in Morality by Suraj.raj (Protecting animals on a legal scale will make the world a better place)
    3. Animals by Leslie.Marquez17 (She loves animals of all kinds)
    4. Animals: Give a Little Back by werewolfgirl2018 (Animals have helped us for years, so now we need to help them)
    5. Animals: Pets Play a Big Part in Our Lives by Spencer99 (Animals keep us safe and love us unconditionally)
    6. Animals: They have choices by TheGreenpaw (This teen examines her feelings on zoos)
    7. Animals: End the Stereotypes by jgao068 (We need to respect animals)
    8. Animals: The Unspoken Truth by Kayla_Ann324 (Strays are not dirty—they deserve love)
    9. Animals: They Know… by ivcooler (Animals know how to comfort you)
    10. Animals: Man’s Unhealthy Best Friend by jmac (We shouldn’t put animals on a pedestal)

    Video and Informational Resources About Pets and Animals

    Ted Talks - AnimalsAs part of the writing contest and teen survey, provided the following video and information resources to the teachers, students, and families participating in the poll and essay submissions:

      "Pet Heroes:  Rosie and Cindy"

    A touching video about how a deaf woman adopted a deaf dog and how their relationship has strengthened into mutual affection and understanding.

    "The Amazing Mr. Gibbs"

    A story about how a girl's pet dog carries around her oxygen tank.

    "Canine Connections : Mike Dowling at TEDxNapaValley"

    Ted Talk that focuses on military dogs.

    "Funny Animal Videos - Over 13 Minutes Of Hilarious And Cute Animal Moments"

    An AFV compilation of funny animal videos.  We couldn't resist sharing this one as inspiration for this student writing contest.

    Author Sponsors

    With over 500,000 teens reached each year, has grown into the leading teen blogging and writing contest destination.  Because of this, national and international authors donate signed copies of their books to Stage of Life for their monthly writing contest.  The signed copies go to the essay winner.  Check out our Author Partners page for details.

    Writing contests on StageofLife.comWriting Contests on Stage of Life hosts educational, national, monthly writing and blogging contests for teens and college students.  In its mission to provide students an authentic community to share their opinions and publish their ideas, will strive to continue its commitment to giving teens and college students a larger voice. 

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    Contact StageofLife.comIf you should have any questions about this writing contest summary, please contact us, or explore our other writing contest information pages...

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