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60% Fear New Pet After Experiencing Loss

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For many, the loss of a pet is too difficult to relive. A new study found that one in five former pet owners would not own another cat or dog because the pain of losing their companion was so great.

The American Humane Association's Animal Welfare Research Institute investigated what prevents pet ownership, and found that cost, a lack of time, disliking animals -- and lingering grief from the loss of a previous pet were all obstacles to more widespread adoption.

Seniors emerged as the group least willing to adopt. 60% of former dog owners age 65 and older aren't interested in getting another dog, while 66 percent of former cat owners won't adopt another cat. Of those who had never owned either, 90 percent said they would not consider getting a dog and 94 percent said they weren't interested owning a cat.

Dealing with pet loss

The first thing one should remember after losing a pet is that there is no "right" or "wrong" reaction you can have to such a profound loss in your life. You might feel full of rage or completely numb with shock or simply feel the need to cry and/or talk. All of these are completely normal reactions.

Dr. Susan Cohen, director of counseling at the Animal Medical Center of New York, said that the most important thing to do if you're experiencing pet loss is to find a place to let your feelings out and be heard.

Different ways of grieving

According to Cohen, often family members and friends are on different timelines in the process of grieving for your pet. So, they might criticize you for the level of grief or guilt you are experiencing, which can lead to even more painful feelings of alienation.

By attending a pet loss support group or seeking professional counseling, you can voice the normal range of your feelings to those who are neutral. In support groups, you might even feel relieved to meet people experiencing similar feelings, such as guilt or depression. Most importantly, all of these proactive measures will help you move through the natural grieving process involved in losing a beloved pet in your own way.

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