Life

There Is Truly No Need to Put “I Voted” Stickers on Your Pets

Close-up of a dog's face staring directly at the camera, looking neutral to unhappy, with an "I Voted" sticker between its eyes.
Fido is not amused. Photo illustration by Slate. Photos by Charles Deluvio/Unsplash.

Voting is everyone’s civic duty, but it can also be a disillusioning process: the long lines, all the choices that seem to boil down to the lesser of two evils, the indeterminable results. One way we’ve found to incentivize people to do it is to give them stickers. Everyone loves an “I Voted” sticker—it’s best not to think too much about whether our democracy would crumble (more than it already has) if we took away the stickers—and on election days, selfies that show off the “I Voted” sticker on the wearer’s chest are ubiquitous across social media.

Perhaps because of this glut, some people feel the need to change it up a bit—they put the stickers on their faces, maybe, or they hold them up with one finger. They also, and here we have arrived at the subject of this piece, like to put the stickers on their pets.

Pets wearing “I Voted” stickers were all but unavoidable last week on Super Tuesday. Jennifer Aniston put one on Clyde, her terrier mix. Former California Gov. Jerry Brown got in on the action too, calling the election “pawfully important” (ugh) and sharing a picture of himself holding the leashes of not one but two dogs wearing “I Voted” stickers. (Why does no one care that it was strongly implied that a former governor voted twice? A question for another article.) As is its wont, BuzzFeed rounded up 25 cute examples of pets sporting voting stickers. Further research reveals that people have been stickering their pets since at least 2016.

Since six more states are voting on Tuesday—2,480 delegates still up for grabs, people!—and more in the coming weeks, I just want to take this opportunity to say … uh, stop it? I don’t know why I have to be the one to tell you this, but please don’t put stickers on your dogs’ or cats’ fur.

I want to be clear and say that I don’t blame Aniston for putting a sticker on Clyde. She’s still new to Instagram, still discovering the crazy things it does to your brain. One can definitely see how “Need new content for my followers!” would flow easily into, “Need to stick things to my dog, for my followers!” But this is an impulse we all need to rise above.

Why do we need to rise above it? Well, this is just a hunch, but I bet your pets do not like when you put stickers on them. More specifically, they do not like when you take the stickers off of them. Imagine putting a sticker in your own hair and then trying to rip it off. Ouch, right? This blog post suggests using peanut butter to get it off, the same substance one turns to for getting gum out of one’s hair—think about that. See also this harrowing post about how to remove duct tape from cat fur, or this one about duct tape and a dog’s paw. So I guess I will revise my statement slightly to say that you should not put stickers on your pet unless you plan on leaving them there forever, understanding that this will probably make it hard for you to keep your pet clean. Really just easier not to stick those stickers on in the first place.

I don’t claim to be an expert on this. I don’t even have pets, so I am not some indignant pet person. I can imagine a counterargument, something like, “C’mon, those voting stickers aren’t even that sticky; the adhesive wears off, or you can just kind of half-stick the sticker on.” Sure? I just want better for our pets, and for our stickers! Like, maybe you can put Post-it Notes on your pets as a compromise—those are less sticky (thanks, Romy and Michele)—but I want you to ask yourself why you think you need to stick things to your pets in the first place. If there’s a chance that your photo op could result in a painful stuck-sticker situation, maybe rethink it. If you still feel the need to commodify your voting and your pet in one stickered swoop, maybe sit with that for a bit and examine the underlying motivation … or at least take a page from some of those dogs in that BuzzFeed roundup or this tweet from radio station KQED and put a sweater or a bandana on your pet first and sticker that. An elegant solution.

If we work together, I’m confident that we can stop the blight of voting stickers on pets, and maybe even continue to uphold a democratic process while doing so.