Pet Loss Support
All pet owners know the pain of losing a beloved companion animal. Although society has been slow to fully recognize these deaths as a valid loss, the grief pet owners feel is very real, and can be overwhelming. Responses to pet loss are often as emotional and gut wrenching as the grief responses accompanying the loss of a human friend or family member. Bereaved pet owners suffer disruptions in both their personal and professional lives due to their feelings of grief.
At Pet Care Veterinary Hospital, we truly understand the wide range of emotions resulting from the death of our furry, feathered, or scaled loved ones. We want our clients to know that these feelings are both natural and normal and that any attempt to suppress feelings of grief can sometimes prolong the healing process.
Our purpose is to help you find comfort during this stressful time. We have gathered together websites, books, and local sources to assist you through your journey to find peace.
From Hampton Roads Veterinary Hospice: “We understand how heartbreaking the loss of your faithful companion can be, and we would like to offer our support during this sad time. As a part of our commitment to the human–animal bond and our clients, we have formed the first pet loss support group for those in the Hampton Roads area who have suffered the loss of a pet. Meetings alternate between the Main Library in Hampton and the Central Library in Virginia Beach. Details regarding the group’s facilitators and schedule will be posted on our website and the support group’s Facebook page each month. Erin Freeman, MSEd will be facilitating these meetings along with Dr. Carmack. Please contact us if we can assist you at any time.”
Online or Phone Resources
- ASPCA Pet Loss Hotline; (877) GRIEF-10: “For support dealing with the loss of a pet, including information on meeting the emotional needs of children at the time of a pet’s death.”
- Association for Pet Loss and Bereavement (APLB) website: “The APLB is unique and the only organization in the world doing what web do. Our services are free and available to anyone grieving for a beloved pet. We pride ourselves in incorporating the collective wisdom and experience of all our friends and members. And we make that freely available to anyone who can use it, during deep bereavement for a beloved pet.”
- Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine Pet Loss Support Hotline; (607) 253-3932; 6–9 p.m. ET, Tuesday – Thursday: “The first Pet Loss Support Hotline was set up in 1989 at the College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of California at Davis. Cornell used its guidelines in construction of its own hotline. The hotline is staffed by volunteer veterinary students who have undergone extensive training with professional grief counselors. Volunteers regularly attend discussion meetings with faculty advisors. These meetings assist hotline volunteers in dealing with the personal responses to grief and educate them to better serve the needs of callers. Literature relating to pet loss and grief is maintained by the hotline and available for mailing to callers who request information. Articles about the human–animal bond and grief are provided for the education of student volunteers and, together with the experience from the hotline, help to prepare the students for the emotional side of veterinary practice. Many if not all of the veterinary student volunteers have experienced the loss of a beloved companion animal and are aware of the profound sadness and confusing emotions that can result. They understand that every loss is unique and they are trained to acknowledge the normal grieving process that callers are experiencing. The Cornell Pet Loss Support Hotline is not a mental health hotline. If the concerns voiced over a call are beyond topics related to pet loss and pet grieving, volunteers will help calls find appropriate resources for their needs.”
- Lightning Strike Pet Loss Support Group: “Offering a ‘cybershoulder’ for pet lovers grieving the death of a pet, a dying pet, sick pet, or lost pet.”
- Washington State University Pet Loss Hotline; (866) 266-8635 or (509) 335-5704; email firstname.lastname@example.org: “We are a group of Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine students who have been trained in grief counseling by a licensed therapist. Many of us have experienced the loss of a pet and are here to help you through this difficult time. By helping others through their loss, we hope to become better, more compassionate veterinarians. As volunteers, we offer compassion and understanding. Most of all, we want you to know that it is perfectly natural to feel the way you are feeling. Grief is expressed in many different ways and each situation is unique.”