Researchers at Washington State University conducted a study of first year (freshmen) college students who owned pets and their level of separation anxiety. What they found is not surprising to those of us who are pet owners and lovers.
The students were tested before leaving for college and during their first two weeks on campus. Prior mental issues were accounted for so that they did not influence the results of the study. What the researchers found was that students who treated their pets more like people suffered more. It also seems that dog owners suffered the most rather than cat owners and people with other types of pets.
The importance of this study shows that programs that allow pets to visit campus to help students that are stressed, are beneficial. What this study made me think of are all of the elderly people who are forced to give up their pets, who were their companions for many years, because they had to move to a care facility. Young people are active and seem to be able to adjust more readily than the elderly. This also brings to mind how important it is to bring certified therapy pets to nursing homes and assisted living facilities. No matter how young or old a person is, losing a pet for any reason is often very traumatic. Your heart can ache for the loss for many years.