Pet Loss Support

Pet Loss Support San Francisco

Grieving the Loss of a Cherished Pet

Although surveys show that most people consider their pets members of the family, pet guardians often feel isolated and misunderstood when coping with the death of a cherished animal companion. Recognizing the need to provide bereaved pet owners with critical support, the San Francisco SPCA continues to offer ongoing Pet Loss Support Groups.

In 1982, the SF SPCA became the first humane society to offer a regular monthly grief counseling service. The leader was Dr. Betty Carmack, who was prompted to offer her services after the accidental death of one of her own animals. Today, Dr. Carmack, Professor Emerita at the University of San Francisco School of Nursing and author of the book Grieving the Death of a Pet, maintains a private counseling practice and still provides this valuable public service at the SF SPCA at no charge to the participants.

Even after nearly 30 years of continuous volunteer work, she finds the monthly sessions intrinsically rewarding. "I think it's so important that people have a safe, non-judgmental place to go," she says.

Pet Loss Support Group Sessions

No reservations are ever needed, and groups meet on the first Tuesday of every month from 7:30-9pm in the Animal Assisted Therapy area on the second floor of the Leanne B. Roberts Animal Care Center at 201 Alabama Street. (View map)

Additional Resources:

Web Sites


Reading Materials

  • Grieving the Death of a Pet
    By Dr. Betty Carmack, R.N., Ed.D., Augsburg Publishers 2003
  • Losing A Best Friend, a collection of articles compiled by the San Francisco SPCA
  • Pet Loss: A Thoughtful Guide for Adults and Children
    By Herbert A. Nieburg and Arlene Fischer, Harper & Row, 1982
  • When Your Pet Dies: How To Cope With Your Feelings
    By James E. Quackenbush and D. Graveline, Simon and Schuster, 1985
  • Living Through Personal Crisis
    By Ann Kaiser Stearns, Ballantine, 1984
  • Coping With Sorrow On The Loss of Your Pet
    By Moira Anderson, M.Ed, Alpine Blue Ribbon Books, 1996

Books For Children

  • Helping Children to Cope with Separation & Loss
    By Claudia Jewitt, Harvard Common, 1992
  • Snowflake in My Hand
    By Samantha Mooney, Delacorte, 1983
  • The Tenth Good Thing About Barney
    By Judith Viorst, Atheneum, 1975
  • When A Pet Dies
    By Fred Rogers, G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1988