Maria Ciccone, a 76-year-old woman from Santa Maria di Roasio, Italy, is believed to have died of grief after her beloved dog – her only company after her husband’s death last year – passed away.
With few relatives living a good distance away, Maria didn’t leave home often and had few friends – but she did take her dog out on a walk every day. Her neighbours grew alarmed when they didn’t see her walking her dog for several days and, as a suspicious smell coming from her house grew stronger, they called the emergency services – who found the bodies of dog and owner next to each other.
Investigator found that Maria had passed away “of natural causes” at least a week prior to the discovery, and that her faithful dog had likely died first – leading them to believe her death was at least partly due to the grief for losing her beloved dog.
Dr Janette Young, who carried out research on the influence pets have on the health of elderly people, said at the time, “Pets offer a counter to many older people’s sense of uselessness.
“Animals need looking after which creates a sense of purpose for older people and they also promote social connections with other people.”
She went on, “For some people, the loss of a pet may mean the loss of a significant mental health support, one that was perhaps even protecting them from ending their life.”