Calls for people to receive compassionate leave in the event of a pet dying
Over half of dog owners said the loss of a pet was "similar or worse" to losing a family member.
People should be granted compassionate leave by their employer in the event of the death of a pet, per a new campaign launched this week.
As part of its 'Not Just a Dog' initiative, Dogs Trust Ireland is appealing to employers across the country to consider the devastating effect that the loss of a pet can have on a human being.
Research carried out by the charity revealed over half of dog owners felt the grief they experienced after losing their dog was similar or worse to the loss of a family member, with a further 38% stating they were surprised by how deeply they were affected.
Almost three quarters (72%) of those surveyed admitted having more photos of their dogs on their phone than their partner, family or friends. In total, over 58% of those surveyed said that it took them a year or more to begin coming to terms with the passing of their pet.
2,774 dog owners were surveyed, with 2,427 having experienced the loss of a dog.
"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," said psychologist and neuroscientist Dr Sabina Brennan.
"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.”
Executive Director of Dogs Trust Ireland, Becky Bristow, noted that the charity offers employees a day's leave when a pet passes, and "would love" to see other employers offer the same amount of time.
Currently in Ireland, paid compassionate leave depends on the nature of an employee's contract, the status of the measure within the specific workplace, and the discretion of the employer.
Per the Citizens Information website, there is no definitive amount of time listed for compassionate leave as employers technically have no legal obligation to do so.
Generally, the 'standard' amount of time offered for compassionate leave is between three and five days, though some organisations like the Health Service Executive of Ireland (HSE) offers as much as 20 days. As noted, employer's discretion tends to represent the ultimate deciding factor in such instances.