UBC Faculty Research and Publications

Pet Humanisation and Related Grief : Development and Validation of a Structured Questionnaire Instrument to Evaluate Grief in People Who Have Lost a Companion Dog Uccheddu, Stefania; De Cataldo, Loriana; Albertini, Mariangela; Coren, Stanley; Da Graça Pereira, Goncalo; Haverbeke, Anouck; Mills, Daniel Simon; Pierantoni, Ludovica; Riemer, Stefanie; Ronconi, Lucia; Testoni, Ines; Pirrone, Federica

Abstract

People often develop strong emotional connections with their dogs and consider them to be members of the family. The purpose of this study was to develop a novel validated tool, the Mourning Dog Questionnaire, to recognise and evaluate the mourning process in people who have lost a dog. The research model was based on a grid of five different questionnaires: the Pet Bereavement Questionnaire, the Lexington Attachment to Pets Scale, the Animal-Human Continuity Scale, the Positivity Scale, and the Testoni Death Representation Scale. The Italian version of the survey was posted on social networks. A sample of 369 Italian dog owners filled in the questionnaire (mean age ± SD 42.00 ± 10.70 years). Reliability indices were good for all instruments. The total scores of the five questionnaires correlated with each other. The results from the Mourning Dog Questionnaire support the negative view of life after the death of a pet and people’s tendency to humanise their pet, since dog owners perceived animals no differently from humans in terms of emotions, needs and legal rights. Findings arising from the use of the Mourning Dog Questionnaire will help the implementation of rationality-based strategies to improve the wellbeing, resilience and quality of life of people in the world experiencing the loss of a pet.

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