Sunday, August 14, 2011

The Unforgettable Moment - The Loss of a Pet

So many of the Facebook posts and blog articles we post for VRCC are happy and carefree, sharing the excitement over the great outcome for a family and their beloved pet.  We love those stories - and rightfully so.  But what if you didn't get the happy outcome?  What if you, directly or indirectly, had to make a really hard decision and your pet isn't coming home?  What then?

“Zeke” Adopted February 4, 2000
Over the rainbow bridge and 
forever in their hearts –
September 24, 2009
Part of the everyday life of working with sick animals is walking through the process of letting go for pets and their humans.  It is a difficult process, whether it's a sudden accident or a long battle, and we don't take it lightly.  Sometimes it is easier than others, but they all have an impact.  We recognize that these animals are precious parts of other lives and each has a different story. 

As professionals in animal health we do our best to listen and empathize with clients during the pain of those moments. But we can't walk out the door with the clients and help them through the healing process.  What we can offer are some great resources that can help you or a friend on that journey.

The Pet Loss Support Page website has Ten Tips on Coping with Pet Loss on the home page.  They also have a directory of resources by state.  Just click on your states initials in the upper left hand corner of the home page.

Are you a parent wondering how to talk with your kids?  Gail Weinhold wrote an article in the Richfield Post talking about that very topic.  She has some great tips about memorializing the special place their pet had in their family and helping her children to grieve.  She also recommends the book Dog Heaven that can be found on She ends the article with this thought.  "Think of their soft eyes, purring tummies or wagging tails and the answer is clear, they love seeing their loved ones happy.  In our house, we are still struggling day-by-day and sometimes hour by hour, but we recognize that our lives are better off because of the time we spent with our furry family member.  Life is precious and in the end every paw printed moment counts."  

Denver has The Human Animal Bond Trust (HABT) "which exists to serve those who are anticipating, or have lost, an animal companion".  The HABT provides the Denver Pet Loss Support Group which meets every Thursday evening at the Denver Area Veterinary Medical Society office at 191 Yuma Street in Denver.  Anyone is welcome to attend.  No reservation is needed.

CSU Veterinary Teaching Hospital has the privilege of having the Argus Institute on their campus that offers a client support program.  Counselors are available to help advocate for you and your pet's needs and to support individuals and families during and after the process of losing a pet. See their website for contact information and hours.  Argus Institute Website

The ASPCA offers a Pet Loss Hotline by calling (877) GRIEF-10.  This hotline can be utilized for assistance with the decision to euthanize as well as support after the loss.  The ASPCA website has additional articles and insights that might answer questions you still have.

Admittedly it is a sad subject, and yet one that is better acknowledged than ignored.  Loss is hard and I hope some of these resources, plus relationships to which you can turn, will help you on the journey to healing.

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