I have been watching the television series The Haunted which appears on cable's Animalplanet. While the description of the series says it explores the "connection between animals and the supernatural realm" it really explores how humans, who don't believe in the paranormal, are suddenly faced with strange encounters that Western scientific models can't explain. The animals, as we might expect, are not prejudiced like their human masters. They react, mainly out of extreme fear to the unseen.
This all reminded me of the Peta-Vatthu (S., Preta Vastu), The Stories of the Departed, which appears in the Khuddhaka-Nikaya of the Pali canon. These are stories about spirits who are more like wraiths which might be described as troubled ghosts, although not, strictly speaking, hell beings who are confined to the torments of the hells. This is to suggest that the peta can be saved by the devotion of friends and the transfer of merit.
By and large, Western Buddhists are uncomfortable with the ideas of rebirth and karma. This might explain why works in the Khuddhaka-Nikaya like the Peta-Vatthu and the Vimana-Vatthu, which are stories about the departed who live in relative bliss, have been off the Western Buddhist radar. This tells us something about Western Buddhism and the direction it wants to go which mainly is in the direction of Western scientific materialism.
This is not a good thing for Buddhism, in general. The spiritual world is real and it was real for the Buddha and his disciples. Just because Western Buddhists want to believe there is no immaterial, spiritual world, even one with petas, doesn't mean they have the truth on their side. It only means that they have elected to be radical skeptics that no amount of evidence to the contrary is going to convince them to change their attitude, or at least keep an open mind.