This group is open to any pet guardians and/or pet family members who would like support coping with the loss of a pet(s). Participants must be 18 years or older. Please see details below.
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—led by grief counselor Dr. Betty Carmack. Although Dr. Carmack has since retired, the monthly support group continued under the supervision of Dr. Cori Bussolari, associate professor of counseling psychology at the University of San Francisco. “The universality of the group is key—being able to express your emotions to others who can understand and relate helps provide validation. This group is exceptionally important for those who are grieving the loss of a beloved animal,” she explains. The support group is currently co-facilitated by Sharleen Phillips, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, and Shaina Madfes, Registered Associate Marriage and Family Therapist, who both trained under Dr. Bussolari and have been involved with the group since Fall 2017.