Poll: Afterlife for Pets?

ByDalia Sussman

July 20, 2001 -- Is there a chew toy waiting for Sparky behind the pearly gates? Americans, and even pet owners, are not so sure.

There's little dispute among the public about the existence of heaven — nearly nine in 10 adults believe in it. But whether or not man's best friend will be joining him there? Well, that's where Americans divide like cats and dogs.

Forty-three percent in an ABCNEWS/Beliefnet poll think pets go to heaven when they die. But about as many, 40 percent, think heaven is reserved for people only. The rest are withholding judgment, possibly until Judgment Day.

Not even pet owners — about six in 10 adults — are so sure that heaven awaits their assorted dogs, cats, hamsters, fish and ferrets.

Forty-seven percent of pet owners say pets go to heaven, still not a majority. Perhaps envisioning eternal relief from dog-walking duties, 35 percent of pet owners say only people have a berth in the great beyond.

In a test, this poll asked half of respondents if all animals go to heaven, as opposed to just pets. About the same number, 41 percent, said yes.

Younger people are more likely to think heaven is open to Fido, Fifi, et. al. And people living in the Northeast are more apt to say so — they're a bit more likely than Americans living in other areas to own a pet.

METHODOLOGY — This ABCNEWS/Beliefnet poll was conducted by telephone June 27-July 1, among a random national sample of 1,018 adults. The results have a three-point error margin. Fieldwork was conducted by by ICR-International Communications Research of Media, Pa.

Previous ABCNEWS polls can be found in our Poll Vault.

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