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Bereavement Support?

  • 1.  Bereavement Support?

    Posted 08-11-2021 12:06 PM
    We all know that losing animals in our organizations can cause suffering. What bereavement or loss support do you have available to your staff and volunteers? 

    Thank you so much for sharing! 


    Rory Adams

  • 2.  RE: Bereavement Support?

    Posted 08-11-2021 01:13 PM
    My experience with support services is more via owned pets but it might be worth checking out some of their stuff?

    here's a few links:
    Pet Loss Grief Support Hot Lines, Helplines and Groups
    Rainbow Bridge Petloss Grief Suport Community when your pet has died remove preview
    Pet Loss Grief Support Hot Lines, Helplines and Groups
    Pet Loss Grief Support Hotlines, Helplines and Groups (Note: Support for pet loss, grief, and bereavement is very different from, and not to be confused with, professional counseling and therapy [psychotherapy.] Be aware that people who provide the valuable service of pet loss support vary greatly in their training, education, experience, and expertise.).
    View this on Rainbow Bridge Petloss Grief Suport Community when your pet has died >
     this one is about grief re loss of people, but i'm guessing there are some really good ideas: Actively Moving Forward®, a young adult and college grief support network
    HealGrief remove preview
    Actively Moving Forward®, a young adult and college grief support network
    Actively Moving Forward® is a grief support network of young adults, for young adults and college students ages 18-30 years old.
    View this on HealGrief >

    They also have a pet site

    Sheila Segurson, DVM
    Diplomate, American College of Veterinary Behaviorists
    Maddie's Fund

  • 3.  RE: Bereavement Support?

    Posted 08-11-2021 07:20 PM
    Hi Rory - At our org any support resource we have is available for anyone in our community (staff, volunteers, or other people). For example, we recently started a pet loss support group and staff and volunteers have attended. We also have a trained counselor available to pet guardians who are providing hospice care for their pets. Staff and volunteers are encouraged to take time and adjust their schedules as needed  when they are dealing with this loss. We also memorialize pets in special ways based on the person's preferences. Just throwing things out off the top of my head - hope it's helpful.

    Sophie Cheston

  • 4.  RE: Bereavement Support?

    Posted 08-12-2021 10:11 AM
    Hi everyone,

    When I worked at the SF SPCA, we had a great pet loss support group that was available free to the public that wasn't specific to staff and volunteers, but I'm sure that the staff and volunteers could attend if they wanted to:

    The groups have switched to Zoom calls currently.

    If there is anyone who is currently working at the San Francisco wants to chime in, please do!


    Amber Eby
    Maddie's Fund

  • 5.  RE: Bereavement Support?

    Posted 08-12-2021 11:54 AM
    I used to run a program like this in Virginia and it was sooooo meaningful for people - always a ton of people came. I wonder if something like this could ever be virtual and still be effective?

    Kristen Hassen
    American Pets Alive!

  • 6.  RE: Bereavement Support?

    Posted 08-13-2021 10:52 AM
    San Diego Humane Society is offering Pet Loss Support Groups virtually.  It is nice to be in person, but the virtual aspect has allowed people unable to make it to the facility able to attend. For some the option of just being with others, even with a dark screen, has been helpful.

    Staff and volunteers are able to attend, but it is almost entirely community members. 

    Stacey Zeitlin
    VP of Community Impact
    San Diego Humane Society

    stacey zeitlin

  • 7.  RE: Bereavement Support?

    Posted 08-14-2021 04:54 PM
    I refer everyone to the Association of Pet Loss Bereavement The site has areas with poems, resource suggestions and ability to create memorials to pets. More importantly, there is both an online and a virtual support group- both of which are free.

    Michelle Tinkham PhD, CHES, PLGS

  • 8.  RE: Bereavement Support?

    Posted 08-15-2021 08:44 AM
    Thanks so much for sharing this. This is a great site with lots of info that I can share with our volunteers and even our adopters.

    Refurbished Pets of Southern Michigan

  • 9.  RE: Bereavement Support?

    Posted 12-05-2023 09:05 AM

    We currently do not have any formal program in place.   I know that all of our staff has had personal loss, even myself.  One of the things that stands out to me is the loss of shelter animals on staff.  We are a no kill shelter, but of course due to safety or legal reasons we must euthanize.   We have one staff member in particular that worked with a dog, grew to love the dog, made videos and took photos for social media, and got the dog adopted.  The dog was returned to us and had to be euthanized (I am not exactly sure of the history, as I am the Volunteer Coordinator and sometimes get the info after the fact in these situations.)  This happened while she was on vacation, and upon her return, she found out.   She has struggled with feeling like she let the dog down, didn't do enough, etc.  I have been supporting her as best I can with conversations, offering a private place to express her emotions, and mostly being a friend.  I do own a sublimation printer and a heat press, so I took her favorite photo of the dog and made her a memorial ornament.  She cried when I gave it to her, and I cried with her.  I expressed that I understood how deeply she felt the loss, how much she loved the dog, and that I supported her emotions.   I think the best thing we can do is understand.  I will continue to support my staff in any way I can.  

    nikki stevenson
    Volunteer Coordinator
    Bitter Root Humane Association

  • 10.  RE: Bereavement Support?

    Posted 12-06-2023 06:44 AM


    You did a lovely thing and gave someone support where they needed it, but getting your organization to involve a professional grief support person or organization is important. You should continue to be you and be kindhearted like you are, it will make your work environment better for those you work with. Seek out grief support in your city or area and try to encourage your employer to utilize them. Animal rescue is difficult especially when we become attached.

    Good luck!


    Mary Millenbach
    Director of Development & Fundraising
    Paws & Whiskers Cat Shelter

  • 11.  RE: Bereavement Support?

    Posted 12-06-2023 12:10 PM
    Thank you Mary ��

    I have only been in the position since May, and we are in the process of revamping our volunteer program.  We are working to include fosters, transports, and I would love to include a pet grief support portion.  It is so important, and I wish I would have had that years ago.  I don't want it to carry the stigma that it used to. Things are getting better, but there is still room for understanding in the world. ��  I have briefly peeked at certification or training in pet grief counseling.  I am a former teacher as well, so I have some basic psycology  and a lot of people skills, but I do want to do more in the area of pet grief.  I will keep you updated on the process.  

    Thank you for having this wonderful resource, and thank you for helping so many animals and offering animal people such awesome support!

    Dr. Nikki Stevenson
    Volunteer Coordinator
    Bitter Root Humane Association
    262 Fairgrounds Rd / PO Box 57
    Hamilton, MT 59840
    Check out our goods at.....

  • 12.  RE: Bereavement Support?

    Posted 12-13-2023 09:15 AM

    I am following, thank you 

    tonya hampton

  • 13.  RE: Bereavement Support?

    Posted 12-14-2023 07:23 AM

    We offer employees a paid bereavement day for the loss of a pet.  In addition, we send a sympathy card signed by their colleagues, and depending on the situation, may offer a more significant recognition, i.e. an engraved plaque to hang on the exterior shelter wall.  The most important things we offer them, however, are warmth, understanding, compassion, friendship, and big hugs.  

    Sandi Mercado
    Shelter or rescue director
    Citizens for Animal Protection