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Press Office

5th December 2007

Has your pet lived before? Over six million Britons say yes

Turkey, Christmas pud and chocolate top the list of festive foods that send pets to the vets

Slimming clubs and doctors’ surgeries experience some of their longest queues after the excesses of Christmas and New Year, but new research suggests that Britain’s surgeries are also feeling the strain as the nation’s podgy pets pig out on a range of festive foods.

Belief in reincarnation is a central tenet in many major religions but now research has revealed that one-in-ten Britons think their pet may have lived before too.

According to a new survey conducted for Petplan, the UK’s leading pet insurer, 13% of the British public believed that a current or former pet was a reincarnation.

Just over a quarter (27%) of those believers in reincarnated pets thought a spirit of a previous pet had returned while 23% thought that a person they had known previously had returned in animal form. The third most common view was that the pet was inhabited by the spirit of another animal.

Asked why they felt their pet was a reincarnation, most believers (43%) said it was ‘just a feeling I get’ while others cited odd reactions by the animal in specific situations (28%) and displays of inexplicable knowledge (27%).

Women believe more strongly in the idea that their pets are reincarnations: 17% of British women said they thought this was the case compared with 10% of men.

Regionally, Scots were the biggest believers at 22% while Londoners and residents of the North of England the least likely with just 11% thinking that their pet might have passed this way before.

Dogs proved to be the type of animal most likely to be considered a reincarnation by pet owners: 51% said they had or have dogs in which they believe to be a re-incarnation while 44% said it was a cat. Startlingly, 2% of owners thought their fish was a reincarnation.

Petplan’s head of marketing Simon Wheeler commented:

"Our experience tells us that pet owners are closely attuned to the behaviour of their pets, and some of the more unusual behaviour is raising questions about their animals that can’t be explained easily."

"Reincarnation is a commonly held belief globally so perhaps it’s no surprise that so many people think their pet may have lived before – though quite how you’d know a fish was a reincarnation I can only guess."

"There are certainly many well documented cases of animals displaying unusual knowledge of being able to sense things before humans are aware of them. It’s a bit of a cliché, but how many times have you seen a horror film in which the dog or cat is aware of the monster before the intended human victim? In the real world, there are reports of some animals which can detect illnesses and even sense when their owner is about to have an epileptic fit."

Reincarnation is the metaphysical teaching or belief that some essential part of a living being, commonly the spirit or soul, survives death to be reborn in a new body. The literal meaning of reincarnation is ‘to be made flesh again.’

The survey of 1,975 Britons was conducted by leading independent research company YouGov.

In 1999, leading British horror author James Herbert published Fluke, a novel about a man reincarnated as a dog. The novel was subsequently made into a film starring Matthew Modine.

For more information please contact FWD PR or the Petplan press office:

Name Telephone Email
Adrian Beeby
020 7623 2368 adrian.beeby@fwdpr.co.uk
Gareth Dupre
020 7623 2368 gareth.dupre@fwdpr.co.uk
Sophie Parker
Petplan Press Office
0208 580 8140 sophie.parker@allianz.co.uk

Editor’s Notes

1. YouGov survey

All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 1,985 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 19th - 21st November 2007. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+). Of this 1,047 were pet owners.

2. Vets

Petplan spoke to 100 vets practising across the UK

About Petplan

Petplan is the largest provider of animal health insurance in the world. Established more than 30 years ago, it is part of Allianz Insurance, one of the largest general insurers in the UK