A new campaign has been launched calling on Irish employers to offer compassionate leave to employees dealing with the death of a pet.
The ‘Not Just a Dog’ campaign was launched by Dogs Trust, Ireland’s largest dog welfare charity, with the help of comedian and broadcaster PJ Gallagher on Monday.
It comes as a survey of dog owners by the charity found more than half said their dog’s death was like losing a family member, while a further 38 per cent said they were surprised by how deeply they were affected.
Almost three quarters admitted to having more photos of their dog on their phone than their partner, family or friends, and more than half said it took them a year or more to start to come to terms with their dog’s death.
Speaking about the death of his own dog, 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 10 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.”
Psychologist, neuroscientist and dog lover, Dr Sabina Brennan, urged those struggling with the death of a pet to seek professional advice.
“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,” she said.
“I think the most important aspect of coping with the loss is to allow yourself to grieve and accepting that what you’re feeling is normal. Surround yourself with people who understand and if you’re struggling, please seek professional advice.”
After discovering 66 per cent of dog lovers worry about their dog’s death, Dogs Trust is urging owners to visit DogsTrust.ie for advice on how to prepare, how to cope with grief and tips on how to broach the subject with children.
Becky Bristow, executive director of Dogs Trust Ireland, said: “Many people spend more time with their dogs than anyone else in their life and have a unique bond with them.
“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 offer the same.”
To help support the campaign, Dogs Trust are asking people to share a photo of their dog using the hashtag #NotJustADog on social media. To find out more about how you can support the campaign, log onto www.DogsTrust.ie/NotJustADog.