The Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University in North Grafton, Massachusetts has been offering support to grieving pet owners for the last 25 years. A group of veterinary students started a hotline back in 1996 with the help of faculty advisors to deal with the need for community-based resources through which people who have lost or are separating from their pets can seek help in dealing with grief.
Tufts University clinical social worker Eric Richman noted, “People sometimes are really at a loss to even function. I mean some people are not going to work, they’re not eating well, they’re tearful all the time and they are reaching out for help.”
The veterinary students are not trained counselors or therapists but the hotline teaches them the opportunity to emphatize with pet owners and also serves as a means to practice their communication skills.
Aside from pet loss, they also deal with people facing decisions regarding euthanasia and people giving up pets for adoption due to allergies, relocation, or financial difficulties. The hotline provides a sense of closure for people with these circumstances.