Owners have stronger bonds with their animals than their families, research suggests

  • Many owners have stronger bonds with their animals than with their family members, new research has suggested.

    Equine charity Brooke has published data from surveys of more than 2,000 UK animal owners, carried out last month. Results showed that three quarters of participants agree in some capacity that they have a closer bond with their pets than their families, and 78% agreed pets provide more emotional support than friends or family.

    More than a quarter of respondents have turned down plans with family and friends to stay at home with their animals, and when seeking comfort three in five people say they sometimes prefer a cuddle from a pet than a partner. Four in 10 people appreciated that their animals know when they are sad, and a third of participants agreed that having a pet teaches compassion and empathy.

    “The last couple of years have been undoubtedly difficult for many – from Covid 19 to the cost-of-living crisis now. People are seeking comfort from many different sources, unsurprisingly a big one being their pets,” said a Brooke spokesman.

    “While it’s clear the bond between animal lovers and their pets is strong in the UK, animals are struggling all over the world. In particular, the recent floods in Pakistan hit people and also their working horses, donkeys and mules, hard.”

    Pakistan has more than six million working equids providing support to an estimated 36 million people.

    “They are mostly used for transportation of people and goods, and some are used in brick kilns, coal mines and agriculture. In the floods they helped farmers evacuate overnight as flood warnings were announced, and were used in the aftermath to access areas that had been cut off when roads were destroyed,” said the spokesman.

    “Although Brooke Pakistan usually focuses on training in animal welfare for owners, they have now had to move into emergency response work. The main issues faced by animals and their owners are lack of access to clean drinking water and food, as well as shade and shelters.”

    The spokesman added thanks to Brooke supporters in the UK, the charity has helped more than 11,000 equines in Pakistan, 6,990 who received treatment. More than 10,000 bags of feed have been donated, and human food rations have been provided to more than 3,000 equine owners.

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