Exceptional events push some owners to abandon their pets. Although it is well known that this distance can cause anxiety in our little companions, its effects on humans have been little studied. A recent article remedies this and proves that this forced separation can have serious consequences for pet owners.
A very powerful emotional bond
The researchers behind this study, published in the journal Anthrozoösarrived at this conclusion after reviewing around forty scientific works focusing on the attitude of people caught in crisis situations towards their domestic animals.
In fact, these animals are so important in the eyes of their masters that they often refuse to flee danger without taking them with them, or without ensuring their safety.
An object of blackmail in the event of domestic violence
If this emotional dependence demonstrates the powerful bond that unites human communities and animals, it can unfortunately complicate crisis management. Thus, victims of domestic violence often hesitate to flee the family home because of their pet. “This is often because there are not enough shelters or accommodations that can accommodate pets, or because victims have little confidence in official assistance programs, which guarantee that they will not be not separated from their animal“, explains Jasmine Montgomery, co-author of the study, in a press release.
Worse still, the perpetrator of domestic violence can sometimes use the pet as a means of pressure to force his victim not to alert the authorities. “In cases where threats are made against pets, victims may return to the perpetrator, which also poses a significant risk to their safety“, souligne Mme Montgomery.
Better consideration of animals in the event of humanitarian emergencies
This phenomenon is not limited to domestic violence. Armed conflicts and natural disasters can lead people to take extreme decisions to keep their animals safe. The United Nations Refugee Agency published a video on Facebook in 2015 in which a Syrian refugee said he walked the hundreds of kilometers between Damascus and the Greek island of Lesbos with his dog, Pink.
But not all pet owners can take their little companion with them when they flee, which can plunge them into great psychological distress.
This is why Jasmine Montgomery and her colleagues encourage public authorities to take more account of the fate of companion animals in crisis management, by facilitating, for example, the evacuation of animals in the event of conflict or natural disaster. “People are often expected to choose human interests over those of animals at all costs, without taking into account the bond between humans and animals.“, declares Jasmine Montgomery in the same press release. “What we need to start doing is taking our pets, and the value they represent, very seriously“.