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Posted on Fri, Apr 30, 2010 : 11:39 a.m.

Pet loss support group starting at the Humane Society of Huron Valley

By Deb Kern

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Many people experience great heartache when a beloved pet passes away. In fact, hundreds of visitors to the Humane Society of Huron Valley (HSHV) tell us that they simply are not ready to bring another pet home because they are still grieving. HSHV is proud to be able to offer assistance for people in mourning.

Our collaboration with Blue Dog Counseling will offer a free monthly support group for people who have experienced or are about to experience the loss of a pet. Our companion animals are very important to our lives. The death of a beloved animal can be emotionally traumatic, but our culture lacks proper outlets for those feelings. People without pets tend to have a ‘Get over it. It’s just a cat kind of attitude.’ But we at HSHV understand the strong bond between people and their animals. A pet loss support group acknowledges and can help heal the pain people experience during this difficult time. We are delighted we can bring this service to our community.

Colleen O’Brien, LMSW, the founder of Blue Dog Counseling who has over fourteen years of experience, will be leading the support group sessions at HSHV. Ms. O’Brien is clinically trained in providing therapy and support to pet owners, animal lovers, and animal care providers around the complex issues of trauma, grief, and loss. Her personal commitment to animal welfare, her own experience as a devoted pet owner, and a passion for supporting people led her to create Blue Dog Counseling. Colleen is dedicated to providing a safe, open, and creative space for discussion.

The Pet Loss Support Group will meet the third Sunday of every month at the Humane Society of Huron Valley from 1 to 2 pm. The group is offered as a drop in service and is free to the public. Donations are welcome and will benefit the homeless pets at HSHV.

Scheduled Dates: May 16 June 20 (NO MEETING IN JULY) August 15 September 19

In order for us to plan for an appropriate meeting space, it would help if you RSVP for this group. Please serve a space here.

The Humane Society of Huron Valley (HSHV) is an independent 501(c)(3) non-profit organization serving all of Washtenaw County, Canton, and Plymouth, and relies solely on donations from businesses and individuals to support our community programs. The mission of HSHV is to promote responsible and compassionate care of all animals in our community. For more information, call (734) 662-5585 or visit


Sid Korpi

Sat, May 1, 2010 : 11:10 a.m.

I'm always heartened to learn of people forming pet loss support groups. I work as an animal chaplain, helping people prepare for, cope with and move on after pet loss, and I know firsthand how difficult it is for them to handle this form of "disenfranchised" grief. Simply receiving permission to grieve and compassion during our process goes a long way to helping our hearts heal. When I wrote my book, "Good Grief: Finding Peace After Pet Loss," I consistently heard from people that they appreciated having their feelings validated. So often, animal lovers are made to feel somehow defective for feeling so intense a loss when their pet dies. Thank you for offering support to this kindhearted subgroup of the human race.


Sat, May 1, 2010 : 9:23 a.m.

I just lost my beloved Persian cat last week. I will be attending the first meeting in three weeks. It has been so incredibly difficult. Thanks again HSHV for working to help animals and animal lovers in this community. I hope that this program is successful and helps people who seemingly have to grieve silently, as a lot of our population just does not get it!

J. Sorensen

Sat, May 1, 2010 : 12:59 a.m.

This sounds like a great idea, especially in such a pet-friendly community such as our town. :o)

Lorrie Shaw

Fri, Apr 30, 2010 : 5:06 p.m.

This is going to help so many people. It's so hard to experience this. Some dear friends of mine lost their girl two years ago, and we all miss her terribly. There is no specific time frame for dealing with grief like that, but this group will certainly help in making the process more bearable. :)