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Losing a pet is like losing a family member, and it can be incredibly hard to grieve when everyday life goes on as normal. In the UK, there is currently no legal obligation for an employer to offer time off after the death of a pet.

But this could change for pet owners in Ireland, as the country’s largest dog welfare charity kickstarts a new movement. Dogs Trust Ireland’s ‘Not Just a Dog’ campaign highlights the devastating effect a pup’s death can have on their owners, and calls on employers to consider offering compassionate leave should their employee’s beloved pet pass away.

Research carried out by Dogs Trust Ireland 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.

Almost three quarters of those surveyed admitted having more photos of their dogs on their phone than their partner, family or friends – so it comes as no surprise that over half took them a year or more to come to terms with their dog’s passing.

Psychologist and neuroscientist Dr Sabina Brennan explained: “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.

“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.”

Becky Bristow, Executive Director of Dogs Trust Ireland continued: “Many people spend more time with their dogs than anyone else in their life and have a unique bond with them.

“As a dog welfare charity, we understand the impact the loss of a dog can have, so we offer our employees a day’s paid leave in the event of the death of their dog, and we would love to see other employers offering the same.”

To help spread their message and show that it’s ‘not just a dog’, Dogs Trust are asking people to share a photo of their dog using the hashtag #NotJustADog on social media.