Pet Loss and Bereavement: Analysis and Questionnaires

Data Management and Analysis

Demographic Information

The interpretation of demographic information about pet loss and bereavement is so important because it helps the researcher to attain a conclusion. By interpreting the collected data or the filled questionnaires that was circulated among the people, we can see that- out of 40, only 1 person was under the age of 22, 22 – 25(2), 26-29(1), 30 – 32(2), 33 – 40(2), 41 – 50(7), 51 – 60(10), 0ver 60(15). It is evident that most of the people who are suffering the pet loss and bereavement are over 60.

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The ethnic background of the people who filled the questionnaire is- Caucasian (10), African – American (10), Hispanic (10), Other (Indian) (5), mixed (5). It is evident that Caucasians, Americans, and Hispanics are closely attached to their pets than others and mixed people.

The marital status of those who co-operated with the questionnaire is- married-(5), divorced-(20), living with a partner-(10), single-(3), and other (2). It is evident that pet passion is widespread among the divorced people.

Among the forty people who co-operated with the questionnaire, 5 are married, 20 are divorced, 10 are living with a partner, 3 are single and 2 are in the other category. It is evident that those who are divorced are suffering the grief of pet loss.

From the data, it is evident that the people who do not have children love their pets more and they consider their pets as their own children.

Christians, especially Roman Catholics (25/40) love their pets, Jews (5/40), Muslims (5/40), others-Hindus-(5/40). All of them consider their pets as their family members.

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People of average economic condition love their pets most, low (10/40) and good (10/40/). When we consider their household’s gross annual income, it is evident that 20% are below 20,000, none is between 21,000- 35,000, 40% is between the income of 36,000 and 50,000, another 20,000 is between the income of 51,000 and 70,000 and none are above 71,000. It is evident that the people of average income consider their pets as dearest.

When we consider the place they grew up, we can see that 15% is from an urban area, 5% from a suburban area, 3% from a rural area, 10% are from the USA, 2% are from the outside USA, 5% are others, and mixed groups are nil. The people of the urban area tend to depend upon their pets for love and care.

Animal attachment

Out of 40, 35 replied that they possess a pet at home and the rest (5) replied that they don’t have any pet at home. To the question what type of pet and how many, 30 people replied that they like dogs as their pet and the rest (5) replied that they like cats. To the question of total number and type(s) of pet(s) one has had as an adult, 35 out of 40 replied as a single type. To the question that did they had any pets as a child, 30 out of 40 forty replied yes and the remaining 10 replied no.

When they were asked to specify the number and type(s) of pet(s) they had as a child (0-18 years), 25 out of 40 replied as single and the rest of the people replied as none. Again, 35 out of 40 were willing to spend$1500 weekly on groceries for their pet; the remaining 5 were ready to spend $1000. Again, 30 out of 40 were ready to spend $1000 monthly on toys, grooming, and recreation for their pet and the remaining 10- $500. But, 35 out of 40 were ready to spend $500 monthly on animal daycare for their pet and the rest were ready to spend $250.

Pet Bereavement

Most of the people who cooperated with the questionnaire were in grief because of the loss of their pet. Moreover, 38 out of 40 responded that they had lost their pet, and the remaining 2 responded negatively. 38 out of 40 responded that they had lost their pet as an adult, and the remaining 2 responded negatively. Out of 40, 35 people responded that they had lost their pet as a child (ages 0-18 years) and the remaining 5 responded negatively.

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But only 3 responded that they had their pet euthanized. The remaining 37 responded negatively. They further added that only 2 pets were euthanized as a child and only 1 was euthanized at adult age. When they were asked to list the number of times they had lost their pet, they responded as: run away cases-20/40, accident-10/40, and natural cases-5/40, Old age, Euthanasia, and Other were nil. But the number of times they lost a pet as an adult is different from that of as a child. Most of the pets were lost by natural cases (20/40), because of old age (10/40), because of accident (5/40), Euthanasia (5/40), run away and other cases are nil.

Questions regarding your most recent pet loss experience

When they were asked about their most recent pet loss experience, most of them (35/40) responded that their lost pet was a dog. Only 3 of them responded that it was a cat. So it is evident that the favorite pet of America is a dog. Most of them responded that their pet was lost by natural causes (25/40), there were 10 accident cases, euthanasia cases (3/40), and run away and other cases were nil. But most of them were of the opinion that that loss was so distressing (35/40), not very (1), somewhat (1), a little (1), and not at all (nil).

Most of the pets died between 19-25 years of age and three were above 25. Most of the pets (30/40) were in the pet lover’s care from birth till death and 8 pets were off between 20-30 years of age. When they were asked the time of the incident, most of them(25/40) responded that it was in last year, 10 of them responded that it was before 6 months and 8 of them responded that it was before 3 months. But (25/38) responded that they do not think that the loss of their pet is resolved yet. Some others (10/38) fells that the grief is relieved a little. Others (3/38) are of the opinion that they feel somewhat relieved from the grief.

Most of the people(25/40)were of the opinion that when the spouse/significant other/partner responded to their needs at that time was very well, others were of the opinion- not very-(5), somewhat-(5)and not at all-(nil). Most of them (25/40) were of the opinion that they felt the strength of their social circle to their needs at that time of grief. Other responses are not very-15, somewhat -3, a little –nil, and not at all-nil. When they were asked about the response of their family members, most of them (20/40) were of the opinion that it was so strong and effective. Other responses are not very-15, Somewhat-2, a little -1, and not at all-nil. Most of the people chose burial for their pet (30/40), cremation (5/40), and huggable urn (3/40).

Answers regarding the most distressing pet loss are similar to that of the most recent pet loss. So it is not included. (Refer to most recent pet loss experience)

35 out of 40 people who co-operated with the questionnaire were of the opinion that clinical vigenette#1 was appropriate. Whereas, 3 0ut of 40 were of the opinion that the clinical vignette 2 was a pathological response.

So it is evident that most of the old people in America are closely attached to their pets. They are so close to their pets and are ready to spend a lot of money on this hobby. Some of them who do not have children of their own consider their pets as their own children. Most of the people of average income are ready to consider their pet as their nearest and dearest. The people who are living in urban society are more attached to their pets because they are so helpful to the aged generation.

It is evident that most adult pets are lost by natural causes and are treated like human beings. When these pet lovers are confronted with the death of their pets, family members, relatives and others who are in their social circle are ready to help them. Death and grief according to death is a common phenomenon. The feeling of bereavement must be provided to the pet lover by a new pet of similar sex, color, or behavior. When the grief is long-lasting, medical treatment and counseling are essential for recovery from grief.

Appendix

(*Out of 40 people who co operated with the questionnaire)

Demographic Information

  • How old are you?
    • Under 22 -( 1)
    • 22-25 –(2)
    • 26-29 –(1)
    • 30-32 –(2)
    • 33-40 –(2)
    • 41-50-(7)
    • 51-60-(10)
    • over 60-(15)
  • What is your ethnic background?
    • Caucasian-10
    • African – American-10
    • Hispanic-10
    • Other (please specify _Indians in America(5)___________)
    • Mixed (please specify (5)_____________________________________)
  • What is your family status?
    • Married-5
    • Divorce-20
    • Living with partner-10
    • Single-3
    • Other (please specify (3)_______________________________________________)
  • Do you have any children?
    • Yes (please specify how many -35(2)__________________)
    • No-10
  • What is your religion?
    • Christian (please specify) Roman catholic and protestant-25____________
    • Jewish-5
    • Muslim- 5
    • Other (please specify) Hindu -5
    • None-nil
  • How would you describe your economic condition? _low-10, average-20, good-10_________________________
  • What is your household’s gross annual income?
    • below 20,000-10
    • between 21,000 and 35,00-20
    • between 36,000 and 50,000-nil
    • between 51,000 and 70,000-10
    • above 71,000-nil
  • Where did you grow up?
    • Urban area (ages ____ through ____)15
    • Suburban area (ages ____ through ____)5
    • Rural area (ages ____ through ____)3
    • In the U.S.A (ages ____ through ____)10
    • Outside the U.S.A (please specify _________2___________) (ages ____ through ____)
    • Other (please specify ___5_________________________________________) (ages ____ through ____)
    • Mixed (please specify _nil___________________________________________) (ages ____ through ____)

Animal attachment

  • Do you currently have a pet/pets?
    • Yes-35
    • No-5
  • If yes, what type and how many?
    • ___30-dogs, 5-cats____________________________________________________________
  • Please list the total number and type(s) of pet(s) you have had as an adult (18 years +) (excluding the above listed current pets)
    • __30, single type______________________________________________________________
  • Did you have any pets as a child ? (ages 0-18 years)
    • Yes-30
    • No-10
  • If yes, please list the total number and type(s) of pet(s) you had as a child (0-18 years)
    • ___25-single, 5-none_____________________________________________________________
  • How much money do you spend weekly on groceries for your pet?
    • ___35- $1500, 5-$1000_________ (approximately)
  • How much money do you spend monthly on toys, grooming, and recreation for your pet?
    • ___30-$1000, 10-$500____________ (approximately)
  • How much money do you spend monthly on animal day care for your pet?
    • 35-$500, 5- $250___________ (approximately)

Pet Bereavement

  • Have you ever lost a pet? (i.e. death, accident, runs away, euthanasia)
    • Yes- 38
    • No-2
  • How many pets have you lost as an adult (18+ years) ?
    • _38-(2), 2-(n0ne)_________
  • How many pets did you lose as a child (ages 0-18 years) ?
    • 35-(1), 5-(none)_________
  • Have you ever had to have your pet euthanized?
    • Yes-3
    • No-37
  • If yes, how many as a child?
    • _3-(2)_____________
  • how many as an adult?
    • __1-(1)_____________
  • If you lost a pet as a child, kindly list the number of times you lost a pet to:
    • Natural causes (cancer, heart disease, other physiological disorders)___5______
    • Old age_____nil_________________
    • Accident_____10______________
    • Euthanasia_____nil____________
    • Run away____20_____________
    • Other (please specify)____nil____________
  • If you lost a pet as an adult, kindly list the number of times you lost a pet to:
    • Natural causes (cancer, heart disease, other physiological disorders)__20______
    • Old age______10________________
    • Accident_____5_______________
    • Euthanasia____3______________
    • Run away______nil____________
    • Other (please specify)___nil_____________

Questions regarding your most recent pet loss experience.

If you lost a pet as an adult, please answer the following using the most recent incident.

  • What type of animal was the pet you most recently lost?
    • _35-dog, 3-cat_________________________________
  • How did you lose this pet?
    • Natural causes-25
    • Accident-10
    • Euthanasia (“put to sleep”)-3
    • run away-nil
    • other (please specify)_______nil__________________________________
  • How distressing was this loss for you?
    • Very-35
    • Not very-1
    • Somewhat -1
    • A little-1
    • Not at all-nil
  • How old was this pet when he/she died?
    • _35-(between 19-25), 3-(above-25) ______________________
  • How long had this animal been in your care?
    • _30-(from birth till death, 8- (between 20-30 yers)______________________
  • How long ago was this loss?
    • _25-(last year), 10-(before6 months), 8-(before 3 months) ______________________
  • How well do you feel this loss has been resolved?
    • Very –nil
    • Not very -nil
    • Somewhat-3
    • A little -10
    • Not at all-25
  • How well did you feel your spouse/significant other/partner responded to your needs at this time?
    • Very – 25
    • Not very – 5
    • Somewhat -5
    • A little -3
    • Not at all – nil
  • How well did you feel those in your social circle responded to your needs at this time?
    • Very-20
    • Not very-15
    • Somewhat -3
    • A little -nil
    • Not at all-nil
  • How well did you feel family members responded to your needs at this time?
    • Very- 20
    • Not very-15
    • Somewhat-2
    • A little -1
    • Not at all-nil
  • Was there any particular way you mourned or memorialized the loss of this attachment? (e.g. cremation, pet burial, huggable urn)
    • 5-cremation, 30 – pet burial, 3-huggable urn _____________________________

Questions regarding your most distressing pet loss.

The following questions refer to your most significant or distressing pet loss experience (regardless of your age at time of loss). If the most distressing pet loss experience is the same as the most recent pet loss, please skip ahead to Attitudes about Pet Bereavement section.

  • What was the type of pet whose bereavement was most distressing for you?
    • __30-dog, 3-cat_____________________________________________
  • How did you lose this pet?
    • Natural causes-25
    • Accident-10
    • Euthanasia (“put to sleep”)-3
    • run away-nil
    • other (please specify)__nil____________________________________
  • How distressing was this loss for you?
    • Very-35
    • Not very-1
    • Somewhat -1
    • A little-1
    • Not at all-nil
  • How old was the pet when he/she died?
    • _35-(between 19-25), 3-(above-25)______________________
  • How long ago was this loss?
    • _25-(last year), 10-(before6 months), 8-(before 3 months
  • How well do you feel this loss has been resolved?
    • Very –nil
    • Not very -nil
    • Somewhat-3
    • A little -10
    • Not at all-25
  • How well did you feel your social circle responded to your needs at the time?
    • Very-20
    • Not very-15
    • Somewhat -3
    • A little -nil
    • Not at all-nil
  • How well did you feel family members responded to your needs at this time?
    • Very- 20
    • Not very-15
    • Somewhat-2
    • A little -1
    • Not at all-nil
  • How well did you feel your spouse/significant other/partner responded to your needs at this time?
    • Very – 25
    • Not very – 5
    • Somewhat -5
    • A little -3
    • Not at all – nil
    • Not applicable-2
  • Was there any way you mourned or memorialized this attachment? (e.g. cremation, pet burial, huggable urn)
    • 5-cremation, 30 – pet burial, 3-huggable urn

Instructions for clinical case portion of questionarre

Please read both cases carefully. Underneath each case there is room for you to identify whether or not you think the client is having an appropriate or pathological grief response.

Clinical Vignette #1:

My husband and I lost our pet cat to euthanasia two and ahlf months ago after a prolonged illness due to kidney failure. My husband is handling it well with only occasional loss feelings. I don’t feel I am handling it as well. I even feel some resentment at the ease of my husband’s transition. We have no intention of finding a replacement for our lost pet. Clinically we know that there was nothing more that could humanly be done and he was buried in a dignified manner. Yet, I feel periods of extreme guilt, grief, physical loss and from time to time suffer nightmares

I have my most difficult periods when the events of his death replay in my mind and in handling the knowledge of his physical decomposition. I would be most appreciated for the reassurance that this hurt will lesson in time, as it seems only marginally improved after two and half months.

Response- 35(appropriate response)

________________________

Clinical vignette #2:

I am a middle-aged teacher who never recovered from the death of Apricot a seventeen-year-old poodle who had to be put asleep. This happened four years ago and I was sedated for days. Two weeks later I acquired a baby cocker spaniel. He slipped his collar one night while I was walking him. He ran into the road and was killed instantly by drunken driver. I was out of school for two weeks. However, the day after the accident my husband insisted we buy another cocker, a little girl. She is now two and I am a nervous wreck, lest something happen to her. She is beautiful, spoiled, but very quiet and well-behaved.

My vacations have to be in motels that allow little pups. She is first in everything. My husband is fond of her, but not like myself. I still get upset on the other two dogs’ birthdays and anniversaries of their deaths. Dog lovers understand; others think I am a nut.

Response- 3(pathological response).

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