See Spot Go to Heaven?
The Public's Not So Sure

By Dalia Sussman
ABC News Polling Unit

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

Pet Afterlife

There's little dispute among the public about the existence of heaven--nearly nine in 10 adults believe in it. But whether 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%, think heaven is reserved for people only. The rest are withholding judgment, possibly until Judgment Day.

Do Pets Go to Heaven?

Yes No Neither/No opinion
All 43% 40% 17%
Pet owners 47%35% 18%
Non-pet owners 38%48% 14%
Source: ABC News

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% of pet owners say only people have a place in the great beyond.

And what about other animals besides pets? In a variation of this poll, respondents who had already answered that they believed in heaven were asked if all animals, as opposed to just pets, will go to heaven. About the same number, 41%, say yes, all animals go to heaven.

Younger people are more likely to think heaven is open to pets. 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.

This ABCNews/Beliefnet poll was conducted by telephone June 27-July 1, 2001, among a random national sample of 1,018 adults. The results have a three-point error margin. Fieldwork by ICR-International Communications Research of Media, Pa.
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