Meet the local social media stars of the animal world

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KANSAS CITY, Mo -- If you’ve ever snapped and posted a picture of your pet, you know you are bound to get a quick “like,” “comment,” or “share.”

In a world where social media can be full of trolls and bullies, pet posts seem to transcend all the negativity. But some are taking it to the next level by creating accounts in their dog, cat, rabbit and even pig’s names.

Whether it’s to market a product or just make someone’s day, Insta-famous pet owners know it’s hard work to get that perfect post.

Heidi Markle started sharing her puggle Harley's best moments  on "Puggle in the Park" through Instagram four years ago.

Heidi does events and marketing for KC Parks and Recreation, and started the account to introduce people to different parks in the city.

"Initially I took her around to all these obscure parks and we would take pictures of it and then hopefully, would encourage people to go ahead and attend or come visit those parks and I think it's working," Heidi Markle said.

When we met up with Heidi and Harley at the West Terrace Dog Park, Harley was dressed in one of her strategically coordinated collars for Flag Day.

"I mean, I spend probably 4-5 hours a week kind of just taking pictures with her and thinking of ideas and things that we're going to do," Markle said.

Harley isn't the only pet in Kansas City with a following.  Cupcake the Pom belongs to the Kansas City Chiefs Mitch Schwartz.

Cupcake has almost 100,000 followers. Other KC pets dream of catching up to Cupcake's growing fan base.

Anna Knutson brought home her dog Charlotte about a year and a half ago and started the "Charlotte English Bulldog" account the same day.

"Originally we started it just to have pictures of her as she grows up and gets older," Anna Knutson said.

Between daily posts, photo shoots, replying to comments and maintaining Charlotte's regular Wednesday play dates, Anna stays busy.

"It's almost my other job at this point," Anna said.

Charlotte and Anna say people spot them out in KC all the time.

"There's people that recognize her and are like oh, you're Charlotte's mom," Anna said.

Charlotte and Harley's expenses are relatively low -- a special collar or prop here or there -- with splurges on birthdays and puppy prom.

Anna says the account is stress relief for her, and makes a difference for followers.

"There was a lady who told us she was just so sad and she got to look at Charlotte everyday and it just made her day," Anna said. "And for me that's the best thing I can ever give else is sharing her and making them happy."

They might be on to something. Wes Crenshaw, a licensed psychologist, says a double tap on Instagram on a pet's photo is almost like the petting an animal in real life.

"It's just like  when you have a live pet and you stroke it and you cuddle with it, there's research that people's blood pressure goes down," said Wes Crenshaw. "They feel calmer and more at ease. I think that is virtually true also  with social media."

Crenshaw says pet accounts can also cut back on comparisons. You might be less likely to think other people have more fabulous lives than you do.

"They are much safer than the people who put up their own pictures because then they're open to scrutiny and potentially bullying and negative comments from people who may not have their best interest at heart," Crenshaw said.

Whether pet social media accounts are used as digital scrap books,  or to spread good vibes, the people behind them are happy so share the love they have for their animals.

"She's pretty much my child and we do everything we can together," Anna said. "For other people to recognize that is a really great thing."



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