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Human Grief Resulting from the Death of a Pet

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Human Grief Resulting from the Death of a Pet

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Abstract

This study investigated antecedents of the human grief response which was associated with the death of a pet cat or dog. The sample included 207 voluntary subjects who experienced this type of loss within a one-year time period prior to participating in the study. Data for the predictor variables were obtained from two validated instruments and a questionnaire developed by the author. Data for grief outcome were obtained from another validated instrument on three clinical and three validity scales. The results indicated that level of attachment to the deceased pet, perceived understanding from others and other stressful events combined to have significant predictive ability in grief outcome. Other analyses indicated qualitative differences in grief outcome according to gender of owner and the presence of children and/or more than one other adult in the household. No significant difference was found between single and multiple pet ownership in grief outcome.

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... Despite the relatively high frequency and intensity of grief over the death of a pet among owners, this process is largely unrecognised socially and underexplored in research [8]. To date, only a few studies have focused specifically on grief-related loss of pet dogs, and they are limited either by the modest samples [5], the conceptualisation of an individual's grief solely within an attachment framework [12,15], or the lack of a standardised, well-validated measure designed specifically to assess pet loss-related bereavement [16][17][18][19]. ...
... Briefly, the PBQ is a 16-item 4-point Likert-type scale which assesses pet bereavement distress. The PBQ is composed of three distinct factors: Grief (items: 2, 3, 5, 7, 10, 12, 15), Anger (items: 1,4,11,13,14), and Guilt (items 6,8,9,16). The LAPS is a 23-item scale measuring pet attachment. ...
... Respondents answer questions on a 0-3 Likert-type scale for each of the following factors: General Attachment (items: 10,11,12,13,15,17,18,19,21,22,23), Animals Substituting People (items: 1,2,4,5,6,7,9), and Animal Rights/Animal Welfare. The last factor assesses a pet's perceived status within the household (items: 8,14,16,20). The AHCS is a 12-item 7-point Likert-type animal attitude scale related to philosophical/religious/world view about whether there is a qualitative difference between humans and other animals. ...
Article
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People often develop strong emotional connections with their dogs and consider them to be members of the family. The purpose of this study was to develop a novel validated tool, the Mourning Dog Questionnaire, to recognise and evaluate the mourning process in people who have lost a dog. The research model was based on a grid of five different questionnaires: the Pet Bereavement Questionnaire, the Lexington Attachment to Pets Scale, the Animal-Human Continuity Scale, the Positivity Scale, and the Testoni Death Representation Scale. The Italian version of the survey was posted on social networks. A sample of 369 Italian dog owners filled in the questionnaire (mean age ± SD 42.00 ± 10.70 years). Reliability indices were good for all instruments. The total scores of the five questionnaires correlated with each other. The results from the Mourning Dog Questionnaire support the negative view of life after the death of a pet and people’s tendency to humanise their pet, since dog owners perceived animals no differently from humans in terms of emotions, needs and legal rights. Findings arising from the use of the Mourning Dog Questionnaire will help the implementation of rationality-based strategies to improve the wellbeing, resilience and quality of life of people in the world experiencing the loss of a pet.
... Interestingly, in focus groups with dairy caretakers discussing perspectives of euthanasia, the participants likened caring for cattle to humans caring for pets in the way they are taken care of when sick and euthanized if that was the best way to alleviate animal suffering [4]. There is limited to no research explaining the nature of the attachment between caretakers and dairy cattle but research in companion animals has demonstrated that there is positive relationship between attachment and/or closeness with the deceased and subsequent grief [19,22,[43][44][45][46]. This would be an interesting area to explore further as understanding the nature of the human-animal bond in the context of production animal caretakers could help in the development and refinement of supportive strategies. ...
... There are many factors in addition to attachment that are predictive of the emotional distress experienced during bereavement including demographic factors such as gender [35,[47][48][49], age [35,43], ethnicity [44,50], and social network [23,43,46]. As discussed previously, the population of dairy caretakers in the United States is predominantly Spanish-speaking Latino men. ...
... There are many factors in addition to attachment that are predictive of the emotional distress experienced during bereavement including demographic factors such as gender [35,[47][48][49], age [35,43], ethnicity [44,50], and social network [23,43,46]. As discussed previously, the population of dairy caretakers in the United States is predominantly Spanish-speaking Latino men. ...
Article
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Dairy caretakers experience a variety of occupational risks including stress related to performing euthanasia and making euthanasia-related decisions for cattle in their care. Few supportive interventions exist to help caretakers cope with euthanasia-related stress. The aim of this study was to assess the impact of weekly peer discussion sessions as an intervention to reduce euthanasia-related stress and grief in dairy caretakers. This study utilized scores from a modified pet-based bereavement questionnaire to assess the change in bereavement of caretakers in response to euthanasia-related stress in a non-treatment group (who did not attend peer discussion sessions, n = 7) and a treatment group (who attended peer discussion sessions, n = 15). Key findings of this study were that discussion sessions did not have a direct impact on the study outcomes as measured using a pet bereavement scale, as there was no difference in the change in bereavement scores during the 8 week study period between the treatment and non-treatment groups. Thematic analysis of peer discussions revealed that compassion towards dairy cattle is a prominent factor in areas of decision making, protocols, and training. Further studies should continue to explore how performing euthanasia and making euthanasia-related decisions impacts caretakers and what supportive interventions can reduce stress and grief.
... Archer and Winchester (1994) devised a crude assessment of the person's emotional attachment to their pet and found that this paralleled the total grief score obtained from the questionnaire. Other studies (Gerwolls andLabott 1994: Gosse 1989;Gosse and Barnes 1994) have also found that assessments of the strength of attachment to the former pet predicted measures of grief intensity. These findings support Parkes' general position that the intensity of grief indicates the strength of attachment--in other words, "the cost of commitment." ...
... He also suggested that the young of most bird and mammal species share the same features, so that humans also find 1-day-old chicks, kittens, and puppies cute. It is also why we are attracted to cartoon characters such as Bambi and Mickey Mouse (Gould 1980) and to cuddly toys such as teddy bears (Hinde and Barden 1985). These, unlike the cuckoo chick (see above), may be examples of supernormal stimuli, in that they have improved on nature by having the relevant stimuli exaggerated beyond that found in young animals. ...
Article
The evidence that people form strong attachments with their pets is briefly reviewed before identifying the characteristics of such relationships, which include pets being a source of security as well as the objects of caregiving. In evolutionary terms, pet ownership poses a problem, since attachment and devoting resources to another species are, in theory, fitness-reducing. Three attempts to account for pet keeping are discussed, as are the problems with these views. Pet keeping is placed into the context of other forms of interspecific associations. From this, an alternative Darwinian explanation is proposed: pets are viewed as manipulating human responses that had evolved to facilitate human relationships, primarily (but not exclusively) those between parent and child. The precise mechanisms that enable pets to elicit caregiving from humans are elaborated. They involve features that provide the initial attraction, such as neotenous characteristics, and those that enable the human owner to derive continuing satisfaction from interacting with the pet, such as the attribution of mental processes to human-like organisms. These mechanisms can, in some circumstances, cause pet owners to derive more satisfaction from their pet relationship than those with humans, because they supply a type of unconditional relationship that is usually absent from those with other human beings.
... A characteristic of an attachment relationship is the activation of the protest/despair/detachment sequence as a result of loss (Bowlby, 1969). Those with a deep owner/pet bond suffer the deepest grief reactions at pet loss (Brown, Richards & Wilson, 1996;Gosse & Barnes, 1994). ...
... Some dog owners grieve when their dogs die in a similar way to the death of a human significant other, with the same stages of protest, despair and detachment found in human loss. The strength of the attachment bond (Brown et al. 1996;Gosse & Barnes, 1994), the role the pet played in the owner's life (dog as "child" or "companion"), and the degree to which the owner relied on the dog for emotional and social support (McNicholas & Collis, 1995) impacts the intensity of pet grief. Archer & Winchester (1994) found that owners who live alone experience more intense responses to pet loss. ...
Article
A model of parental sensitivity in caregiving informs later romantic relationships and is transmitted in caregiving behaviours to children. Differences in parental caregiving contribute to individual differences in infant attachment style. The owner/dog bond mirrors this relationship as dog careseeking activates owner caregiving. The aim of this thesis was to investigate the role of individual differences in owner caregiving on dog attachment style. The first study defined dog attachment style in the Strange Situation Test (Ainsworth & Wittig, 1973) in a sample of 52 self-selected owner/dog dyads. Dogs seek proximity, show evidence of distress when separated and use owners as safe havens for exploration. Individual differences in attachment security and insecurity were found. Secure dogs achieve attachment system deactivation through owner contact. Insecure dogs’ attachment systems remains activated with: excessive focus on the owner but otherwise behaviourally passive; excessive owner avoidance focussing on evading the owner; or anxiety, consisting of high distress which could not be pacified by owner. The second and third studies tested the effects of owner behaviour on individual differences in dog attachment style and exploratory system activation in a task-solving experiment. Behaviours assessed were talk and touch durations in the Strange Situation and owner “frightening” behaviours (threatening; owner showing fear; dissociation; disorganised; highly submissive; and sexualised behaviours). Owner behaviours significantly related to dog attachment style: owners of Avoidant dogs petted them less, talked to them more and used frightening behaviours, whereas, owners of Secure dogs used moderation in talk and touch and few frightening behaviours. Secure dogs task-solved longer and their owners were significantly less invasive and controlling (grabbing paws, restraining dogs) than owners of Avoidant dogs. Owner sensitivity is therefore related to dog attachment security which enables exploratory system activation. Self-reports of owner attachment style in the fourth study found a trend towards a dismissive style in adult relationships and dog avoidance. Parent/child studies have linked parental frightening behaviours to subsequent infant disorganisation (due to the secure base or safe haven also being the source of fear), and to parental unresolved loss, trauma or abuse. Using interview protocols, studies five and six found relationships between owners Unresolved in loss, a Dismissive owner working model, invasive owner task solving behaviour, frightening owner behaviours and Avoidant dog attachment, indicating of a web of interaction between working models and behaviour. The results indicate the potential effects of owner behaviour on the human/dog bond. The results could be used in assessing owner dog relationships that may indicate risk of animal/human abuse; assist dog shelters in the successful re-homing of insecure dogs by identifying secure households; and to enable greater owner understanding of dog behaviour and appropriate responding leading to more satisfying human/dog bonds, and thus fewer relinquishments to shelters.
... Although education, religion, and race have not demonstrated reliable connections with PBD, we also included them because of their importance as core demographic variables. Third, pet-related characteristics such as how a pet died (e.g., McCutcheon and Fleming 2001), how long a pet was owned (e.g., Planchon et al. 2002), time since the death of one's pet (e.g., Hunt and Padilla 2006), and the level of emotional attachment towards one's pet when living (e.g., Gosse and Barnes 1994) were examined because they have also been shown to correlate with PBD. Pet type and the presence of other pets in the household (e.g., Planchon and Templer 1996), which we also considered important pet-related characteristics, were also examined despite their demonstrated independence of PBD. ...
... The intensity of grief processes also tends to dissipate over time (Bonanno et al. 2005), which was also found in this study and other pet bereavement studies (e.g., Hunt and Padilla 2006). Also consistent with the literature (Gosse and Barnes 1994;Hunt and Padilla 2006) was the positive association found between PBD and levels of pet attachment. Given that pets are a consistent source of emotional support to their owners, it stands to reason that the most bonded owners would also be the ones who felt the greatest levels of bereavement distress (see Bowlby 1982). ...
Article
A growing body of literature grounded in contemporary psychological theory suggests that personality and religion have a significant impact on the emotional well-being of the bereaved. Although this approach has been validated in human bereavement research and proposed by specialists in the field, it has not been empirically examined in the context of pet loss. This is surprising given the large number of people who own pets, and the high emotional value placed on animal companions in society today. Thus, the purpose of this study was to fill a void in the literature by examining the influence of neuroticism and religious coping on pet bereavement distress (PBD) while controlling for other variables of interest. A total of 510 adults who had lost a pet completed an online survey measuring pet-related characteristics, demographics, social desirability, religious variables, pet attachment, death anxiety, bereavement distress, neuroticism, and two forms of religious coping. A standard multiple regression analysis yielded a robust model (adjusted R2 = 0.52) which supported our hypotheses that a tendency to experience negative emotions (neuroticism) and using religion to deal with loss in an unsupportive and negative manner (negative religious coping) would be unique predictors of PBD. Negative religious coping was also the strongest predictor in our model. In addition, death type, time since pet death, pet attachment, social desirability, death anxiety, spirituality, and positive religious coping also explained unique variance in PBD. These findings not only emphasize the significance of considering personality and religion as unique factors that also impact pet bereavement, but also demonstrate the importance of controlling for other variables of interest when conducting this kind of research. Limitations and consideration of future research are also discussed.
... Therefore, the number of studies investigating the relationship between attachment and pet grief has increased significantly. Studies show that the strength of the attachment bond to a pet is a significant predictor of the severity of grief (Field, Orsini, Gavish, & Packman, 2009;Gerwolls & Labott, 1994;Gosse & Barnes, 1994). Furthermore, this experience of death is a risk factor for depression (Stallones, 1994;Planchon et al., 2002), particularly for women and people living alone, regardless of whether the loss occurs suddenly or as a result of euthanasia (Davis, 2011). ...
... Similar to the phenomenon of grief caused by the death of a beloved person, this factor may help to promote resilience in coping with loss. It is also confirmed that women are more predisposed to suffering from extreme grief and depression than men are (Gosse & Barnes, 1994;McCutcheon & Fleming, 2001;Planchon & Templer, 1996;Wrobel & Dye, 2003). In contrast to the literature, however, we found a direct rather than inverse correlation with age. ...
Article
Full-text available
Studies that have examined pet loss hypothesize that attachment, representations of death, and the belief in an afterlife for animals may influence owners’ bereavement and depressive outcomes. The following instruments were administered to 159 Italian participants recruited through snowball sampling: the Lexington Attachment to Pets Scale (LAPS), the Pet Bereavement Questionnaire (PBQ), the Testoni Death Representation Scale (TDRS), and Beck’s Depression Inventory II (BDI-II). Questions concerning pet euthanasia-related issues and the relationship between owners and veterinarians were also submitted to the participants. A path model was conducted, showing that the representation of death and the attachment to a pet had a direct effect on pet grief, which in turn had a direct effect on depression. The results show a positive correlation between the LAPS and PBQ factors, particularly with the PBQ factor Grief. The LAPS factors positively correlated with the TDRS representation of Death as a Passage and negatively correlated with the TDRS representation of Death as Annihilation. The LAPS People Substituting factor positively correlated with the total score and the Cognitive-Affective factor of the BDI-II. The PBQ factors positively correlated with the BDI-II, whereas only the TDRS Death as Annihilation factor positively correlated with the BDI-II. Belief in a transcendent dimension was associated with higher scores on the PBQ Guilt factor and the TDRS factors of Death as a Passage and Death as Change, whereas these beliefs were associated with lower scores on the TDRS factor Death as Annihilation. The results indicated that the sensitivity of the veterinarian and a veterinarian who helps owners make conscious and informed decisions for their pet and choose the right time to perform euthanasia are important variables in the management of pet loss. However, these factors are not sufficient and psychological support should be improved to help owners better cope with grief.
... One study found that 86% of pet owners experienced at least one symptom of grief following the death of their dog or cat [43]. The degree of attachment between an owner and their pet is significantly correlated to the severity of the owner's grief [43]; when there is high attachment but low levels of support, an individual is prone to more intense grief [23]. ...
... Most pet owners report a significant emotional attachment to their pet [10,12,40,43]. When pet owners feel a lack of support and understanding from their network, they may experience more intense and prolonged grief [23]. ...
Conference Paper
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As social media becomes more deeply embedded into our daily lives, researchers are examining how previously private disclosures and interactions are manifesting in semi-public spaces. This study evaluates how sites like Facebook may help users grieve following the loss of a family pet. Through an empirical study of Facebook users, we evaluate survey responses (N=396) and users' actual Facebook posts related to pet loss (N=190) to better understand how individuals use (or do not use) social media as part of the grieving process. We find that users weigh several benefits and drawbacks before making these sensitive disclosures on Facebook, including whether they think posting will mitigate or perpetuate their emotional pain, the privacy of the experience vs. the public nature of sharing, and whether their disclosures will be met with support or dismissal (i.e., disenfranchised grief). We conclude by discussing implications for theory around grief and social support, as well as the design of social media interfaces that support grieving processes for the loss of a loved one.
... phantom sensations). Indeed, after pet loss, grieving pet owners who are strongly attached to their animal can even experience somatic stress symptoms (Gosse & Barnes, 1994). Furthermore, Hart, Hart and Mader (cited in Morley & Fook, 2005) argue that continual reminders of the animal's absence, or symbolic loss, is felt through their links to other relationships in which both they and their owner were involved. ...
Article
The widespread tendency of modern-day pet owners to self-identify with their companion animals psychologically, symbolically and relationally demonstrates how the constructed identities of animal and owner are strongly linked. This becomes particularly apparent during natural disasters. In this review, the new concept of the pet-owning self is discussed in relation to three self-psychology perspectives: self-extension, symbolic interactionism and selfobject relations. We purposefully depart from the realm of attachment theory to argue that these three epistemological approaches to self-identity, although related, warrant closer examination. Although we discuss them in relation to disaster contexts, the concept of the pet-owning self remains widely applicable. We argue for the importance of acknowledging the powerful intersubjectivity inherent to pet keeping, the inseparability of perceived pet identity from owners' experiences of the self and that preserving the cohesion of the two is an essential consideration for owners' psychological wellbeing when managing the integrated pet/owner in the face of risks posed by disaster and other hazards. Future research opportunities and implications are then discussed in the context of social identity theory.
... Doubts about the occurrence of meaningful bonds in livestock animal production are also raised by the fact that although much is written about the effects of pet loss and the ensuing need for grief-support programs for companion animal owners (Gosse and Barnes, 1994;Beck and Katcher, 2003), comparable social and scientific consideration is infrequently given to owners of livestock animals. In truth, so little is written about bereavement in those involved in the rearing of agricultural animals that it might appear that the purpose for which these animals are designated precludes development of the emotional connections to them that would necessitate social support on their deaths. ...
Article
• Terminology used in the discourse of industrialized livestock production has led some to characterize human-animal relationships within the animal industries as exploitive and oppressive; because the human-animal bond promotes concern for animal welfare, the apparent exclusion of that term from animal science and industry dialogue may reinforce negative perceptions and heighten concerns about livestock well-being. • Although the term "human-animal bond" is not typically used in production animal agriculture, the importance of the quality of human-animal interactions on the behavior and physiology of farm animals has been well established along with its implications for animal productivity and economic returns. • The close connections many people have with companion animals appear to provide a basis for concerns about animal welfare that may influence the purchasing and voting behavior of consumers relative to food animal products and issues. • Those involved in production animal agriculture should consider whether their interactions with and language choices related to livestock disconnect them from some audiences and undermine perceived commitment to animal welfare by reflecting a construction of animals that is inconsistent with conceptions of them as members of mutually beneficial relationships to whom care and compassion are owed.
... Doka (1989, p. 4) coined the term "disenfranchised grief" which describes very well this "type of grief that persons experience when they incur a loss that is not or cannot be openly acknowledged, publicly mourned or socially supported". Emotionally speaking, the death of the patient and animal companion could be a difficult moment for both the veterinary professionals (Fogle & Abrahamson, 1990) and the caretakers (Gosse & Barnes, 1994;Planchon et al., 2002). In this respect, for some keepers, "it seems that the death of a dog is a stressful life event" (Tzivian, Friger, & Kushnir, 2015, p. 1). ...
Article
Full-text available
A convenience sample of 76 students in veterinary medicine served as the basis for a qualitative investigation on animal companion loss and the veterinarian-client relationship. Participants recorded their views regarding the interaction between veterinarians and caretakers and the emotions related to the animal companion's euthanasia/death. Participants mentioned some of the stressors concerning veterinarians' communication with clients. With respect to the narrative reflections from this study, a number of respondents indicated the presence of sorrow and grief in the context of the final separation from the patient with whom the students had established a bond for several years. Other veterinary students noted that veterinarians can feel frustration and anger if they cannot save the animal companion because the client " came in too late ". These insights have important implications for keeping an animal companion. Cuvinte-cheie: pierderea animalului de companie, moarte, eutanasie, emoţii, studenţi de la medicină veterinară.
... Euthanasia can be done for many reasons, including when a pet is terminally ill and will deteriorate, has severe injuries from which it will not recover, has irresolvable behavior problems, or has age related problems which cannot be alleviated. Several researchers (Gerwolls and Labbot 1994;Gosse and Barnes 1994;Stephens and Hill 1996) indicated that the grief associated with a loss of a pet is similar to that associated with human death. Hence, to request euthanasia of a pet may be one of the most difficult decisions a pet owner makes. ...
Article
Full-text available
The purpose of the paper is to explore how the role a pet played before disposition and how the owner lost his/her pet affect the pet owner’s next pet adoption decision. Results from Pearson chi-square tests of independence show no significant relationship between how the respondent viewed his/her pet before relationship ended and the length of time he/she waited before adopting another pet. However, a significant relationship was found between how the pet owner lost his/her pet and the length of time he/she waited before adopting another pet. Respondents who said they lost their pet voluntarily were more likely to wait longer before adopting another pet than those who said they lost their pet involuntarily. Moreover, the results confirm that respondents who viewed their pet as a child, before end of relationship, were more likely to hold funeral rituals than those who viewed their pet as a friend, a family or household member. Finally, those pet owners who lost their pets and decided to adopt another pet are likely to choose a pet of the same species but different breed. Implications to theory and practice are discussed.
... The loss of pets can have effects that are similar to those that are caused by the loss of other various objects, including spouse, child, health or jobs, that are listed in the social readjustment rating scale (SRRS) [10,14]. Indeed, bereaved pet owners who experienced more life events have reported more severe grief than those who had experienced fewer life events [8,25]. ...
Article
Full-text available
Some individuals manifest psychosomatic symptoms after the death of their pets. A survey was conducted at four public and commercial animal cremation service centers in Japan. In each center, a questionnaire was distributed to 100 individuals (400 in total). The questionnaire consisted of the 28-item version of the General Health Questionnaire (GHQ28), the social readjustment rating scale (SRRS) and a series of questions regarding demographic information and the circumstances of their pet's death. In total, 82 returned questionnaires were available for analysis. GHQ28 proved the existence of neurotic symptoms in 46 responses (56.1%; 95% confidence interval: 44.7-67.0%). Analysis of the responses using the GHQ28 subscales with a Likert scoring system demonstrated more somatic dysfunction in females (GHQ-A: P=0.04). Furthermore, significant correlations were identified among the following factors: owner's age (GHQ-A: P=-0.60, P=0.01; GHQ-B: P=-0.29, P=0.01; GHQ-C: P=-0.32, P<0.01; GHQ-D: P=-0.42, P<0.01), SRRS score (GHQ-A: P=0.32, P<0.01; GHQ-B: P=0.25, P=0.02; GHQ-D: P=0.30, P=0.01) and animal's age (GHQ-D: P=-0.26, P=0.02). The death of indoor pets caused deeper depression (GHQ-D: P=0.01) than that of outdoor or visiting pets. The results revealed neurotic symptoms in almost half of the pet owners shortly after their pet's death.
... Owners often report that they preferentially interact with their companion animals over other close relationships (Kurdek, 2008;Sable, 1995) and express grief and distress (Gosse & Barnes, 1994;Tzivian & Friger, 2014) when their pet dies. These behaviors suggest that adult owners display attachment behaviors such as proximity seeking and maintenance and separation distress toward their companion animal. ...
Article
Companion animals are increasingly being recognized by society as beneficial to our health and considered by many owners as authentic and affectional family members. Human relationship theories help us to understand the emotional and supportive aspect of the human– companion animal bond. This study uses attachment theory, social support theory, and the concept of the hierarchical nature of attachment relationships to further understand and measure human–animal attachment. In study 1,161 university-student pet owners completed a modified multidimensional scale of perceived social support (MSPSS) that included pets as a source of support, and we pre-tested a 60-item pet attachment measure. Results showed that students perceived their pets as distinctive sources of social support, at similar levels to their significant others, family, and friends. Principal components analysis of the 60-item measure reduced it to 31 items, and revealed four pet attachment components: (a) Proximity maintenance and interaction, (b) Emotional attachment behaviors, (c) Emotional support given and received, and (d) Emotional and monetary value. The scale was named the Emotional and Supportive Attachment to Companion Animals Scale (ESACA) (Cronbach’s α = 0.96). In study 2, 83 university students completed an attachment hierarchy scale and the ESACA. Companion animals were included in pet owners’ attachment hierarchies and ranked higher than siblings but lower than romantic partners, parents, and close friends. Those who indicated higher attachment to their companion animals ranked them higher in their attachment hierarchy than those less attached. This study supports and extends previous research that has used aspects of attachment theory and social support theory when exploring the human–animal bond. Many companion animal owners perceive their pets as additional sources of emotional support, fulfilling the four features of an attachment relationship and including them in their hierarchy of important attachment relationships.
... While extreme cases of devotion to pets tend to capture media attention (Hickrod and Schmitt 1982), there is no doubt that both emotional and financial investment in pets is frequently extremely significant (Hickrod and Schmitt 1982;Ainsworth 1989;Archer and Winchester 1994;Gosse and Barnes 1994;Endenburg 1995;Kurdek 2008). However, pet ownership presents a sociobiological and Darwinian contradiction since attachment and devoting resources to another species are, in theory, fitness-reducing (Hamilton 1964;Archer 1997). ...
... A study of people whose animal had died within the previous year reported that attachment to the pet and the perceived lack of understanding from others were associated with increased grief, as were social isolation and being female (Gosse & Barnes, 1994). Thus, some respondents experienced a lack of validation of their grieving by others as a type of grief disenfranchisement: a lack of recognition and regard for their sadness, To protect the rights of the author(s) and publisher we inform you that this PDF is an uncorrected proof for internal business use only by the author(s), editor(s), reviewer(s), Elsevier and typesetter SPi. ...
... Euthanasia can be done for many reasons, including when a pet is terminally ill and will deteriorate, has severe injuries from which it will not recover, has irresolvable behavior problems, or has age related problems which cannot be alleviated. Several researchers (Gerwolls and Labbot 1994;Gosse and Barnes 1994;Stephens and Hill 1996) indicated that the grief associated with a loss of a pet is similar to that associated with human death. Hence, to request euthanasia of a pet may be one of the most difficult decisions a pet owner makes. ...
Article
Full-text available
Purpose - The purpose of the paper is to explore how the role the pet played before disposition and the way the owner lost his or her pet affect the pet owner’s next adoption decision. Design/Methodology/approach- Questionnaires were administered to 184 previous and current pet owners measuring their perceptions of the role their pet played before relationship ended, the way the relationship ended, the next pet adoption decision, and owner’s arrangement of pet goodbye (funeral, memorial etc.) rituals.Findings- Results from Pearson chi-square tests of independence show no significant relationship between how the respondent viewed his/her pet before relationship ended and the time they waited before he/she adopted another pet. However a significant relationship was found between how the pet owner lost his/her pet and the length of time before adopting another pet. Respondents who said they lost their pet voluntarily were more likely to wait longer than those who lost their pet involuntarily before adopting another pet. Moreover the results confirm that respondents who viewed their pet as a child were more likely to hold funeral rituals than those who viewed their pet as a family or household member. Finally those pet owners who lost their pet and decided to adopt another pet are likely to choose a pet of the same species or same breed as previous pet but not likely same species and same breed as previous pet. Research limitations - This study was conducted among employees of two higher education institutions. Thus, further research needs to test the research results in a diverse population. Practical implications- As they are increasingly confronted with competition from pet breeders, nonprofit pet shelters and pet rescue agencies need to adopt marketing concepts to understand the needs of their customers. In terms of practice the results of this research highlight the need to understand the effect of how the pet is lost on the length of time before adopting another pet, the effect of how the pet is viewed before relationship ended on ritual arrangement, and finally the effect of the species or breed of the previous pet on the next pet species or breed choice. Originality/Value – Previous researchers discussed the various roles pets play in the lives of consumers. They explained that animals can serve as friends, family, and extensions of self. They provided a phenomological evidence to support their views. This research extends the work by exploring the influence of the role a pet played (friend, family, and self) before disposition and the way the pet is lost on the pet owner’s future pet adoption decision.
... Previous researchers (Gosse & Barnes, 1994;Jarolmen, 1998;Rajaram, Garrity, Stallones, & Marx, 1993) have long noted that grief at the loss of a pet produces stress emotionally comparable to the bereavement stress at the loss of a human relative, especially for adolescents. Margolies (1999) showed that women's grief at the loss of dogs and cats was comparable to the grief at the loss of human friends, while a comprehensive review of 30 studies (Clements, Benasutti, & Carmone, 2003) showed that pet loss could become a major bereavement stress, especially for juveniles (cf. ...
Article
Buddhist Chaplains chanting sutras after the Great East Japan Earthquake in 2011 often encountered survivors who felt that hearing sutra chanting itself ameliorated their bereavement grief. This research is the first experimental examination of the effects of sutra chanting on listeners’ bereavement stress. Prior research demonstrates that sudden pet loss causes bereavement stress in students and that physiological stress can be noninvasively measured by salivary alpha-amylase. We asked Japanese college students to raise pet goldfish until they developed an attachment to them, then confiscated the fish, and told the students that they had to be killed. To compare the bereavement stress of groups listening and not listening to sutra chanting, we used psychological and salivary analyses. Perceived Stress Scale (PSS), Multidimensional Empathy Scale (MES), and State half of the State Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI) psychological scales showed no statistically significant differences between sutra and control groups, but salivary analyses indicated measurable stress reduction in the sutra-listening group only. This pilot study tentatively confirmed the hypothesis that listening to Buddhist sutra chanting reduces Japanese bereavement stress. Further research is needed both to verify these stress-reduction effects and to determine whether such effects are primarily musical or cultural/spiritual.
... As dogs come to be viewed increasingly as family members across much of the developed world, the grief felt at the loss of a beloved dog can be significant [129][130][131]. Veterinary and animal-shelter industry professionals are particularly at risk since they routinely encounter work-related stressors caring for companion animals, often resulting in occupational stress and burnout, mental health problems, as well as compassion fatigue and suicide [132]. ...
Article
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No other animal has a closer mutualistic relationship with humans than the dog (Canis familiaris). Domesticated from the Eurasian grey wolf (Canis lupus), dogs have evolved alongside humans over millennia in a relationship that has transformed dogs and the environments in which humans and dogs have co-inhabited. The story of the dog is the story of recent humanity, in all its biological and cultural complexity. By exploring human-dog-environment interactions throughout time and space, it is possible not only to understand vital elements of global history, but also to critically assess our present-day relationship with the natural world, and to begin to mitigate future global challenges. In this paper, co-authored by researchers from across the natural and social sciences, arts and humanities, we argue that a dog-centric approach provides a new model for future academic enquiry and engagement with both the public and the global environmental agenda.
... Unwanted dog behaviours are not only detrimental to owner well-being but also to the dog-owner relationship 107 , being one of the leading causes of relinquishment 110,111 . Finally, dog's poor health (e.g., death, sickness, injury) and a sense of obligation to the dog (e.g., failing to/having to care for it) were also reported to negatively impact participant well-being; an effect which has been described in other investigations 42,[112][113][114][115][116] . Thus, caregiving burden and a potential grief should be carefully considered before the acquisition of a dog by vulnerable individuals. ...
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Mental health problems and suicide are more frequent in autistic adults than general population. Dog ownership can improve human well-being. This study aimed to generate a framework of well-being outcomes for dog-related activities in autistic adults and compare it to the framework generated for a general adult population. Thirty-six autistic dog owners (18–74 years old, 18 males) from diverse UK regions were interviewed and transcripts thematically analysed. 16.7% reported that their dogs prevented them from taking their own lives, mainly due to the dog's affection and the need to care for the animal. Close dog-owner interactions (e.g., cuddling, walking, dog's presence) were the most frequent activities improving emotions/moods and life functioning, whereas routine-like activities (e.g., feeding the animal) particularly enhanced life functioning. Well-being worsening was mainly linked to dog behaviour problems, dog poor health/death and obligations to the dog. Despite some negatives associated with ownership, having a dog could improve the well-being of many autistic adults and assist suicide prevention strategies in this high-risk group. The framework was consistent with that generated previously, indicating its robustness and the potential opportunity to focus on dog-related activities rather than the vague concept of “ownership” when considering the impact of ownership on well-being.
... Certain life stages are considered at-risk for complicated grief response, particularly adolescents with limited death-related experience or elderly who have suffered subsequent losses (Adams et al., 2000;Chur-Hansen, 2010). However, the literature remains unclear on the effect of age on grief response with conflicting findings across studies (Gosse & Barnes, 1994;McCutcheon & Fleming, 2002;Quackenbush & Glickman, 1983). Grief may be further complicated for individuals who view their pets as a "linking object", connecting the pet owner to a now deceased family member or significant relationship in their life (Williams & Mills, 2000). ...
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... The aforementioned strength of the owner-dog relationship in brachycephalic breeds may reduce the likelihood of euthanasia in other ways also. The strength of the attachment bond to a pet has been demonstrated to be a signi cant predictor of the severity of grief after the loss of a pet [68][69][70] . Anticipation of this loss may delay or prevent owners in making euthanasia decisions 71 . ...
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The loss of a pet can be particularly distressing for owners, whether the method of death is euthanasia or is unassisted. Using primary-care clinical data, this study aimed to report the demographic and clinical factors associated with euthanasia, relative to unassisted death, in dogs. Method of death (euthanasia or unassisted) and clinical cause of death were extracted from a random sample of 29,865 dogs within the VetCompass Programme from a sampling frame of 905,544 dogs under UK veterinary care in 2016. Multivariable logistic regression modelling was used to evaluate associations between risk factors and method of death. Of the confirmed deaths, 26,676 (89.3%) were euthanased and 2,487 (8.3%) died unassisted. After accounting for confounding factors, 6 grouped-level disorders had higher odds in euthanased dogs (than dogs that died unassisted), using neoplasia as the baseline. The disorders with greatest odds included: poor quality of life (OR 16.28), undesirable behaviour (OR 11.36) and spinal cord disorder (OR 6.00). Breed, larger bodyweight and increasing age were additional risk factors for euthanasia. The results highlight that a large majority of owners will face euthanasia decisions and these findings can support veterinarians and owners to better prepare for such an eventuality.
... Research suggests that women have even greater bonds with companion animals than men (Margolies, 1999). Women report greater feelings of despair following the death of a companion animal (Gosse & Barnes, 1994), and seek services for pet loss more often than males (Margolies, 1999;Turner, 1997). Research has also suggested that women are more actively involved in animal rights (Jamison & Lunch, 1992). ...
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... Empirical examination of peoples' grief or distress following the death of animal companions increased in recent years (Gosse & Barnes, 1994) and ...
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... Como sujetos, los animales de compañía proveen valor, amor y soporte emocional a sus dueños, quienes los consideran como amigos o condentes eles (Albert y Bulcroft, 1988;Beck y Katcher, 1983;Gosse y Barnes, 1994;Hirschman, 1994;Katcher, 1989, Donovan 2013. En investigaciones con dueños de animales domésticos de compañía que son considerados como un integrante más de la familia (Belk, 1996;Holbrook et al., 2001;Cohen, 2002;Jalongo, 2004;Holbrook, 2008), se han documentados ciertas actividades donde los perros y gatos acompañan a sus dueños en las vacaciones familiares, se les compra accesorios de diseño, se les mima en tratamientos de spa, o se les dejan sustanciosas herencias (Eckstein, 2000;Brockma et al., 2008;Blouin, 2008;Shepherd, 2008;Hung et al., 2011;Grimm, 2014). ...
... Como sujetos, los animales de compañía proveen valor, amor y soporte emocional a sus dueños, quienes los consideran como amigos o condentes eles (Albert y Bulcroft, 1988;Beck y Katcher, 1983;Gosse y Barnes, 1994;Hirschman, 1994;Katcher, 1989, Donovan 2013. En investigaciones con dueños de animales domésticos de compañía que son considerados como un integrante más de la familia (Belk, 1996;Holbrook et al., 2001;Cohen, 2002;Jalongo, 2004;Holbrook, 2008), se han documentados ciertas actividades donde los perros y gatos acompañan a sus dueños en las vacaciones familiares, se les compra accesorios de diseño, se les mima en tratamientos de spa, o se les dejan sustanciosas herencias (Eckstein, 2000;Brockma et al., 2008;Blouin, 2008;Shepherd, 2008;Hung et al., 2011;Grimm, 2014). ...
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El Instituto de Biodiversidad y Áreas Naturales Protegidas del Estado de Quintana Roo, tiene como objeto conducir la política estatal en materia de áreas naturales protegidas, bienestar animal y biodiversidad, con la finalidad de salvaguardar y fomentar el uso sustentable de los recursos naturales, fortaleciendo el sistema de áreas naturales protegidas y procurando el bienestar animal y la biodiversidad que existe en el Estado. En este sentido brinda seguimiento al Consejo Consultivo Ciudadano para la Atención y Bienestar de los Animales en el Estado de Quintana Roo, el cual es un órgano de coordinación institucional y de participación y colaboración ciudadana, cuya finalidad principal es establecer acciones programáticas y fijar líneas de políticas zoológicas, ambientales y de sanidad, a efecto de garantizar el trato digno y respetuoso a los animales del Estado.
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Several studies have investigated the grief that owners experience after they euthanized their pets. However, research has not explored the cognitive and emotional processes those dog owners experience. The authors chose an exploratory approach and conducted a content analysis of 29 semistructured interviews of owners in the 2-week period after the death of their dogs. They found 5 main phases in the initial parting process: the decision to euthanize; anticipation and mental preparation; burial; mourning; and thinking about a new pet. All participants experienced these 5 common behavioral and emotional phases. There were only small individual differences among owners' reactions.
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Currently, the supply of service dogs is limited. Of the more than 49 million Americans with a disability, fewer than 16,000 have a service dog. Every year, the Delta Society's National Service Dog Center—a clearinghouse for information about obtaining or training service dogs—receives thousands of calls from people who want, but cannot obtain, such a dog. This article reviews for professionals in rehabilitation the current research into the use of service dogs and/or animal-assisted therapy. Service dogs may help the clients of rehabilitation nurses meet their rehabilitation goals; therefore, it is incumbent upon nurses to be familiar with the research in this area. Another article by Susan Modlin, which discusses the author's personal experience with a service dog training program, will be published in the January/February 2001 issue of Rehabilitation Nursing.
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Twenty years ago, “pet related issues” may have seemed an inconsequential matter or outside the scope of professional practice for many mental health practitioners and researchers. Yet, the 2006 U.S. Pet Ownership & Demographics Sourcebook found that 37.2% of US households have a dog and 32.4% have a cat. Today, there are more than 72 million pet dogs in the United States and nearly 82 million pet cats. In several research studies, between 87 and 99% of pet owners defined their pets as being “like a friend or family member” (Cain, 1983; Voith, 1985). If financial commitment can be considered as one level of emotional investment, it may be safe to assume that Americans have significantly invested in their pets. In 2005, US consumers spent more than 36 billion on their pets, more than double the amount spent ten years earlier (American Pet Products Association, 2005). The total US pet industry expenditures for 2009 was36 billion on their pets, more than double the amount spent ten years earlier (American Pet Products Association, 2005). The total US pet industry expenditures for 2009 was 45.5 billion. It is estimated that the trend will continue, with spending to top over $47.5 billion in the United States alone. Many may wonder how pet companions have obtained such important standing in contemporary times. Endenburg (2005) has suggested that this increasing investment and reliance on pets for companionship and social support is due to recent demographic and social changes, such as smaller family size, increased longevity, and higher incidences of relationship breakdown. For many, these increasing emotional and financial investments illustrate the depth and importance of the human–animal bond.
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The possible relationship between companion animal behavior and owner attachment levels has received surprisingly little attention in the literature on human-companion animal interactions, despite its relevance to our understanding of the potential benefits of pet ownership, and the problems associated with pet loss, or the premature abandonment and disposal of companion animals. The present study describes a preliminary investigation of this topic involving a questionnaire survey of 37 dog owners and 47 cat owners exactly 1 year after they acquired pets from animal shelters. The results demonstrate a number of highly significant differences in owners' assessments of the behavior of dogs and cats, particularly with respect to playfulness (Mann-Whitney U Test, P = 0.125), confidence (P < 0.001), affection (P = 0.002), excitability (P = 0.018), activity (P = 0.002), friendliness to strangers (P < 0.001), intelligence (P = 0.02), and owner-directed aggression (P = 0.002). However, few differences were noted between dog and cat owners in terms of their perceptions of what constitutes ‘ideal’ pet behavior. The findings also suggest that dog owners who report weaker attachments for their pets are consistently less satisfied with most aspects of their dogs' behavior compared with those who report stronger attachments. Weakly attached cat owners are significantly more dissatisfied with the levels of affection shown by their pets (P = 0.0186), but in other respects they are far less consistent than dog owners.
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During two retreats in 2017 and 2020, a group of international scientists convened to explore the Human-Animal Bond. The meetings, hosted by the Wallis Annenberg PetSpace Leadership Institute, took a broad view of the human-dog relationship and how interactions between the two may benefit us medically, psychologically or through their service as working dogs (e.g. guide dogs, explosive detection, search and rescue, cancer detection). This Frontiers’ Special Topic has collated the presentations into a broad collection of 14 theoretical and review papers summarizing the latest research and practice in the historical development of our deepening bond with dogs, the physiological and psychological changes that occur during human-dog interactions (to both humans and dogs) as well as the selection, training and welfare of companion animals and working dogs. The overarching goals of this collection are to contribute to the current standard of understanding of human-animal interaction, suggest future directions in applied research, and to consider the interdisciplinary societal implications of the findings.
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Pets can be loyal, loving, and entertaining members of a family. Their deaths are generally experienced as painful losses by the people who love them, even though the grief experience is often culturally disenfranchised. In this manuscript, we discuss the role that pets can play in a person's life; the effects that pet loss can have on the people who love them; and some creative rituals for memorializing a beloved pet.
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We compared grief severity and its predictors in two equivalent college student samples who had experienced the death of a pet (n = 211) or a person (n = 146) within the past 2 years. The human death sample reported higher grief severity, p < .01, but effect sizes were small (ds = .28-.30). For both samples, closeness to the deceased was overwhelmingly the strongest predictor of grief severity; other predictors generally dropped out with closeness added to the model. Results highlight the importance of including closeness to deceased in grief research, and its centrality in understanding grief counseling clients.
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Past research shows that anthropomorphizing animals and nonhuman objects is correlated with unmet social needs (e.g., loneliness), and momentary feelings of social rejection can be soothed by thinking about a pet or by having a dog nearby. The current work tested whether thinking of names for cats and dogs improves wellbeing after social rejection, as well as whether this phenomenon occurs because of a unique quality of animals or because of anthropomorphism more generally. In three studies, participants relived a past experience of social rejection, social acceptance, or a physical injury (a control condition), after which they reported their current wellbeing. Next, participants named either cats or dogs (studies 1, 2, 3), people (study 2), or plastic toys (study 3) before reporting their current wellbeing for a second time. Across all three studies, naming cats or dogs reduced feelings of social rejection. Naming anthropomorphic plastic toys, however, produced a similar effect. To test the role of anthropomorphism in this phenomenon, study 3 also measured participants’ chronic tendency to anthropomorphize and included a condition in which participants only viewed animals or toys. Rejected participants who simply viewed photos of cats or dogs (without naming them) experienced improved wellbeing if they were already dispositionally inclined to engage in anthropomorphism. Collectively, these results suggest that briefly thinking about cats or dogs is an effective strategy for improving feelings of social rejection and that general processes involving anthropomorphism can produce this ameliorative effect.
Chapter
The primary purpose of this study was to explore the bond between men and their canine companions across the lifespan. Due to traditional socialization, men often struggle with psychological intimacy and interpersonal relationships. As such, canine companions may be particularly valuable in orienting men toward a more relational way of being. Data were analyzed from 911 current and/or former dog owners, recruited mostly from electronic classifieds and forums. In addition to demographic questions, participants completed the Gender Role Conflict Scale-Short Form (GRCS-SF), the Experiences in Close Relationships Scale-Short Form (ECR-S), the Multidimensional Scale of Perceived Social Support (MSPSS), and the Pet Attachment Scale (PAS). If the participant’s most significant canine companion had died or been lost, he was also asked to complete the Grief Pattern Inventory (GPI). Findings supported, as theorized, a difference in patterns of gender role conflict based on age, a difference in the strength of the attachment bond and the level perceived social support from the most significant canine companion based on age, and a difference in a dissonant grief pattern after the loss of the most significant canine companion based on age. Findings did not support a moderating effect of attachment avoidance on the relationship between attachment anxiety and a dissonant grief pattern. While additional research investigating the relationship between males and their canine companions is needed, these findings give credence to the integral part that dogs can play in the lives of men in our culture. Furthermore, this information may be valuable to the many disciplines involved in the study of human-animal bonds.
Chapter
Companion animal ownership by those who are homeless or vulnerably housed has been criticized as inappropriate, for if someone cannot care for themselves, they must certainly not be able to care for an animal. However, our understanding of this unique human–animal relationship is growing, and we are furthering our knowledge of both the benefits and liabilities which animal companions confer upon their human guardians who are marginalized by community and society. Among street-involved and homeless youth, the need for the benefits of animal companionship is even more pronounced. Street-involved youth often come from experiences of abuse, trauma, and neglect into the street where further victimization is almost inevitable. Companion animals help youth not only to mitigate the stresses of street life, but they also offer youth the opportunity to experience the compassionate side of humanity in a way that no human has ever shown them. In this chapter, we will explore how animal companions are a form of social capital for street-involved youth, learn how human–animal attachment impacts the lives of youth, and apply the One Health model to wholly understand these unique human–animal relationships. To do this, this chapter will draw on my experience, observations, and reflections as a veterinarian working with homeless and vulnerable pet owners for over a decade with Community Veterinary Outreach, my graduate research with street-involved youth who own pets, as well as existing and emerging literature on homeless and street-involved youth, and human–animal interaction.
Chapter
It is evident that animal companions have a deep capacity for acceptance, adoration, attention, forgiveness, and unconditional love, thus, satisfying some of our greatest human needs. Pets also help humans to overcome or prevent a sense of isolation that is frequently experienced due to life struggles.
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Psychosomatic symptoms of bereaved pet owners were longitudinally evaluated through a questionnaire survey. Results showed that the numbers of suspected cases of mental illness 0, 2, and 4 months after the pet loss were 22/37 (59.5%), 17/30 (56.7%), and 11/27 (40.7%), respectively. Risk factors could include age of owner, relationship between the owner and the pet, and family function.
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We examined the impact of pet/animal death on Complicated Grief (CG) and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in relation to demographic variables amongst a diverse population of racial and ethnic groups in Hawaii. Three hundred and fifty-five participants (142 solicited by mail, 213 volunteer college students) completed a 37-item questionnaire, the Inventory of Complicated Grief Revised Short Form (ICG-R-SF) and the PTSD Check-list (PCL), and we assessed relationships between demographic variables such as pet ownership with CG and PTSD scores, to gauge potential at-risk populations. While Filipino populations presented increased, if subclinical, CG and/or PTSD scores, no primary racial/ethnic identity correlated with significant scores, based on the DSM-IV-TR criteria. Individuals who scored higher on questions related to empathy with animals, such as adopting strays, feeling like their pet can sense their mood, integration of animals into the family unit, and feeling over-protective of their pet correlated with higher CG and PTSD scores. We found that 3.8% of participants met the cutoff score for CG and 5.7% met the cutoff score for PTSD, following the death of a pet/animal. There is a need for multicultural awareness regarding both human–pet/animal relationships and bereavement.
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Human–animal relationships are increasingly incorporated into families as a normal part of family life. Despite this, relationships with animals are often viewed as inferior to human relationships. This becomes problematic during times of loss and grief when members of a grieving companion animal owner's support system do not understand the salience of the relationship with the animal. Veterinary and other helping professionals need basic information about the experience of companion animal loss in order to help support and normalize the experiences of grieving companion animal owners. The present study qualitatively describes human–animal relationships and the subsequent loss and coping experienced by owners of beloved companion animals. Comparison with human and other types of loss and factors unique to companion animal loss are discussed, and practical applications for veterinary and other helping professionals are provided.
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The patient–provider relationship in the context of veterinary medicine represents a unique opportunity for studying how bad news is communicated to pet owners by conducting structured interviews with veterinarians. A sample of 44 veterinarians’ responses was recorded and content-analyzed in an effort to identify themes among providers in their clinical experience of breaking bad news (BBN). Two coders revealed several themes in the data that were organized by three overarching areas: (1) breaking bad news in general, (2) euthanasia, and (3) social support. The findings from interviews indicated the COMFORT model (Villagran, Goldsmith, Wittenberg-Lyles, & Baldwin, 2010) in medical education provided a useful framework to organize the communication of BBN in veterinary medicine. Results were discussed in relation to future research in patient–provider communication and COMFORT’s potential value for training students in veterinarian education.
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A pet has a played significant role as a member of the owner's family in recent years. It is known that the loss of a loved pet could bring its owner severe grief. However, this reaction has not gained enough attention. The description about grief reaction and care was reviewed in accordance with past literatures. Loss of a pet is one of the object losses. The pet owners suffer grief at the loss of the pet. It is just as traumatic as the relatives who died. They could experience various negative feelings and sorely somaticize in the process. When they reached to pathologic grief, some kinds of expert interventions were useful in treating these symptoms. In cases of pet loss, care providers should pay enough attention to treatment because of some features different from human death. First, in veterinary practice, owners have choice to euthanize their pets. It sometimes results in a pang of guilt, while humane euthanasia puts pet away calmly. Secondly, when perceptions about pet loss are different between owner and people, this gap makes owners feel isolated. Other's unintentional words, for example "just a dog" or "you can get another pet", would result in disappointment if the lost pet was considered precious. Furthermore, a funeral ceremony that is helpful for mourning work is much less common in a dead pet. These specificities of pet loss are worthy of attention. In Japan, such a controversial pet loss has been known during the last decade. Japanese bereaved owners also seem to go through grief process as in some other countries. However, a recent report showed that some of them felt different about foreign treatments. Although several textbooks of pet loss were translated and consulted, such past recommendations could not be appropriated in Japanese. It might be because of difference between Japanese and foreign cultures. Therefore, it need to be discussed how we should support bereaved pet owners on the basis of Japanese culture. As most of candidates in the past researches were recruited via a veterinarian, counselor or bulletin board, accessible populations might be biased. In addition, participants in the past survey generally think back and answer to questions in retrospect. These selection or recall biases could lead misinterpretation of findings. For the purpose of an appropriate support, the best-unbiased research for evaluating grief derived from pet loss is required. And then a prospective longitudinal survey is also needed in order to evaluate the result of interventions.
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This paper explores multispecies families and nonhuman kinship through the lens of tattoo narratives, namely those that accompany designs dedicated to a companion animal. Although some tattoos are purely aesthetic, many embody deep personal meanings. Humans use narrative as a tool to endow meaning to experience, and the visual nature of a tattoo invites the telling of a story. Participants in this study were compelled to commemorate a special bond shared with their companion animal in the form of a tattoo. A discourse analysis approach was applied to examine narratives under the framework of “nurture kinship” and the theory of kinship as “mutuality of being,” as well as the role of memorial tattoos in griefwork and the theory of “continuing bonds.” Through embodied story-telling, tattoos can help the bereaved maintain an absent presence with the deceased. This study supports the conclusion that humans can and do form kinship bonds with other animals and that memorial tattoos serve similar functions, regardless of the species of the deceased loved one.
Article
This research used an online quantitative survey to investigate variables related to grief following pet loss. These included type of relationship, animal species, amount of time since death, cause of death, attachment, and social support. We also examined emotions hypothesized to be associated with pet loss: grief, guilt, and loneliness. Female and male participants over the age of 18 years (n = 85) who had lost a companion animal within the previous six months completed the survey. We divided the cohort into three groups rep- resenting high, middle, and low levels of grief. Individuals in the high grief group experienced the highest level of guilt and loneliness when compared with those with low and medium levels of grief. Grief was also related to the way in which participants described their pets. Those who classified their pet as their “child” or “best friend” reported significantly higher levels of grief in comparison with those who considered their pets to be “good companions.” Furthermore, a high level of pet attachment was associated with higher grief. Other variables related to level of grief included age, which was inversely related to grief, guilt, and loneliness, and the presence of supportive others ameliorated guilt and loneliness. Species of animal was related to guilt and grief, with rabbit owners exhibiting significantly less guilt and grief than dog and cat owners. The type of death was not associated with grief, guilt, or loneliness scores. The major- ity of respondents felt supported following their loss, although some did not feel understood and expressed a lack of social recognition for their loss.
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Objective: The aim of this study was to qualitatively explore veterinary professionals’ use and perceptions of grief resources and services to support companion animal caregivers following companion animal euthanasia. Background: The loss of a companion animal can be a source of great sorrow and grief. Like human loss, many companion animal caregivers may seek out and benefit from grief resources, of which veterinary professionals are often important providers. Yet, little is known about how, when or for what reasons veterinary professionals provide these resources. Methods: A qualitative study consisting of group and individual interviews involving 38 veterinary professionals and staff from 10 veterinary hospitals in Ontario, Canada was conducted. Verbatim transcripts were evaluated using inductive thematic analysis to identify themes and subthemes. Results: Results indicated that typically resources were only provided if a caregiver requested information, or when veterinary professionals recognised that the caregiver may benefit from these resources. To assess a caregiver’s need, participants reported considering their age, the strength of the human-animal bond, their previous and ongoing life circumstances, and their emotional state. Several barriers limiting veterinary professionals’ use of grief resources were also described including perceptions that few adequate resources existed and a lack of knowledge of existing or new resources. Conclusion: Overall, findings suggest that there are substantial opportunities to improve and embed a provision of grief resources within the veterinary profession. There is a need to develop adequate resources to meet caregivers’ supportive needs and implement these resources within the greater veterinary profession.
Chapter
Bond-centered care is a systematic approach to dealing with the non-medical needs of pet owners, while simultaneously treating pets’ medical needs. The practice of providing bond-centered care is especially relevant for animal hospice teams and veterinarians who are dedicated to providing end-of-life services in a bond-centered practice. Meeting clients’ pet loss-related needs and providing them with emotional comfort requires knowledge about the specialized roles animal hospice team members play when helping people deal with grief. This chapter defines those roles, their boundaries, and how to deliver effective help to animal hospice caregivers without crossing those boundaries.
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The social and the emotional roles played by pets in the urban setting are examined. Data obtained from a random telephone survey of 320 pet owners and 116 non-pet-owners in Providence, Rhode Island, are presented. Responses to the survey indicate that pets are viewed as important family members by people who live in the city. Further, pet owners stress the positive roles played by pets in the household rather than the negative consequences of pet ownership. Pet-human interaction in the urban household is primarily positive. However, the emotional dimensions of pet-human relationships vary over a number of significant social variables. Pet attachment is highest among single, divorced, widowed, and remarried people as well as among childless couples, newlyweds, and empty-nesters. Urbanites are more attached to dogs than to cats and other types of pets. Pet anthropomorphism is high among single, divorced, and remarried people, dog owners, and childless couples. Data on the sociodemographic differences between pet owners and non-pet-owners in the city are also presented.
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Argues that the care of farm and pet animals and gardens allows the elaboration of nurturing beyond the rearing of human children and that such extensions of nurturing behaviors have positive consequences for psychological and emotional health, intimate interactions, and the ability to find solace and contemplation in a busy world. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Article
The bond between human and pet depends on their commonality as animals and their mutual need for attachment. Under abnormal circumstances of developmental frustration a human may displace an overdetermined need for attachment to the pet. The attachment relationship is pathological because of its defensive purpose, and its interruption can create enduring psychiatric reactions. The paper details the developmental determinants for this interaction.
Article
Pathological bereavement reactions following the death of a close relative or friend have been well documented in the literature. Similar grief reactions have been described following other personal losses, such as the loss of a limb or the loss of one's home. The cases of three women are described in whom pathological grief followed another category of loss, that represented by the death of a much loved domestic pet. The patients suffered disabling psychiatric symptoms following the death of their pet dogs. The dogs were all of the toy dog variety and had been at least 13 years of age at the time of their death. Institution of psychiatric treatment resulted in rapid recovery and at follow-up after a year there had been no recurrence of symptoms.
Unpublished master's thesis
  • M Bloom
Unpublished master's thesis
  • L Lenior
Oxford: Basil Blackwell
  • J A Serpell