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25th Jul 2022

Dogs Trust calls for compassionate leave for bereaved pet owners

Ellen Fitzpatrick

They are reaching out to employers.

Dogs Trust is calling on employers across the country to offer compassionate leave when a pet passes away.

Launching the Not Just a Dog campaign, they are hoping that employers will begin to look at a pet’s death the same way as they would a family member’s.

The animal charity carried out a survey and found that 51% of dog owners said the death of their dog was like losing a family member while 38% of people said they were surprised at how upset they were by a pet’s death.

Two thirds of people who answered the survey said that they worry about their dog dying.

Speaking about the initiative, Becky Bristow, executive director of Dogs Trust Ireland, said that many people spend more time with their dogs than they do with humans, and have ” a unique bond with them.”

She said: “As a dog welfare charity, we understand the impact the loss of a dog can have, so we offer our employees a day’s paid leave in the event of the death of their dog and we would love to see other employers offering the same.”

The campaign is being supported by comedian PJ Gallagher, who helped launch the appeal.

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.”

When it comes to dog owners, 72% of people admit that they have more photos of their dogs on their phone than their partner, family, or friends while 58% said it took them a year or more to start to come to terms with their dog’s passing.

Dogs Trust is now urging owners to seek the advice given on their website on how to prepare for a dog’s death, cope with grief, ideas to commemorate your dog, and how to broach the subject of a pet’s death with children.

Speaking about the death of his own dog, PJ Gallagher said: “Is there a greater feeling in the world than coming home to a dog who is delighted to see you, even though you only popped out to the shops? It’s tough when that’s gone.

“I had Lylo, my Collie cross who I adopted from Dogs Trust, for ten fantastic years. She was my best friend, and I was devastated when I had to say goodbye to her.

“We need to recognise how crushing it is for dog owners when their dog dies and it’s important that people feel they can talk about it, without being told to get over it, it’s just a dog.”