14 Pages

The Death of a Pet: Human Responses to the Breaking of the Bond

WithKathleen V. Cowles

This chapter examines the thinking and research in the area of human responses to pet death using the results of the author's study to highlight the major concepts. The loss of a pet, whether due to the death of the animal or any other cause of separation, can be the impetus for acute grief responses in individuals of all ages. In 1981, the author completed an in-depth study that explored and reported descriptions offered by pet owners of the deaths of their pets and their perceived associated responses. Non-scientific literature has long attested to the importance and value placed upon domestic animals by humans. While both K. M. Keddie and E. K. Rynearson discussed the potential for complicated grief related to heightened attachment to or dependence on a pet, both also commented on the contributions domestic animals may make to the lives of their human companions. The chapter suggests that the human and pet are significant attachment figures for one another.