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26th Jul 2022

The Dogs Trust is right – employees need compassion when they lose their pets

Sarah McKenna Barry

“I don’t think that some people understand the devastation that a pet owner goes through when their pet dies.”

Yesterday, the animal welfare charity Dogs Trust launched their campaign – Not Just a Dog – which calls on employers to offer their staff compassionate leave in the event of pet bereavement.

The campaign pointed to a recent survey which found that 51% of dog owners compared the death of their dog to the death of a loved one, while 38% of respondents said that they were surprised by how upset they were by the loss.

The Dogs Trust offer their employees a full paid day’s leave in the event of a pet bereavement, and they are calling on other businesses to do the same.

After sharing the news on our own social media platforms, the consensus was clear. When it comes to the death of our pets, it is not an experience that we can simply get over or quickly move on from. It’s a loss that should be treated with compassion and empathy.

“I don’t think that some people understand the devastation that a pet owner goes through when their pet dies,” one Her reader wrote. “It is pure grief. They definitely deserve time off to get their head together.”

Another penned: “This should 100% happen. It is never ‘just a dog’, or ‘just a cat’, ‘just a rabbit’ or ‘just a horse.’ They are beautiful sentient souls that give us so much love, laughter, happiness and joy. It is a true grief when they pass away, no different to grief for a person. You cared for this being and gave them all you could, how could you not be devastated when they leave us?”

Indeed, we know from personal experience how heart-breaking the experience of losing a pet can be, and psychologists underline the importance of processing your feelings properly during bereavement.

As the Dogs Trust campaign launched, psychologist and neuroscientist Dr Sabina Brennan said: “When a dog passes on, no matter how prepared we are for it, how old the dog is or how long or how short a time they spent with you, the loss can be overwhelming.

“I think the most important aspect of coping with the loss is to allow yourself to grieve and accept that what you’re feeling is normal.

“Surround yourself with people who understand, and if you’re struggling, please seek professional advice.”

You can learn more about the Not Just a Dog campaign right here.