Pet Loss Support

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.

  • When: First Tuesday of every month from 7:30-9:00pm.
    Please note: The June meeting will be held Tue, June 11th.
    No registration required.
    Please arrive between 7:25-7:30pm as late entry will not be possible.
  • Where: SF SPCA Adoption Center, Geraldi Building,
    250 Florida St, San Francisco, CA 94103
  • Directions: You can enter the Geraldi Building on 16th Street, near the corner of Florida Street. There will be signs directing you to the door and facilitators will be nearby before the group starts to help you navigate. Please note, you will NOT be able to enter the building from the SF SPCA’s Veterinary Hospital on Alabama Street nor through the SF SPCA’s Adoption Center or parking lot.
  • Accessibility: Group will be held on the first floor. There is a ramp located in the Adoptions Parking Lot towards Geraldi Building. Masks are recommended but not required.
  • Transport: Street parking is free and available in the neighborhood. The closest BART station is 16th St Mission and there are several MUNI stops (Lines 22, 33, 55, 27) nearby.
  • Contact:

About the Pet Loss Support Group

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.


Other Resources

Web Sites

Reading Material

  • 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
  • The Grief Recovery Handbook for Pet Loss By Russell Friedman, Cole James, and John W. James, Taylor Trade Publishing, 2014

Books For Children

  • You’re Still With Me By Lisa M. Algee, E.F. Tongson, 2018
  • 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

Virtual Pet Loss Support Resources

  • Peninsula Humane Society: Zoom support groups on the 2nd Thursday of the month from 7:00pm to 8:30pm PST. Zoom link and additional information can be found at 
  • Marin Humane Society: Zoom support groups on the 1st Monday of the month from 6:00pm to 7:30pm PST. Additional information can be found at call Mimi De Gennaro, LCSW (415) 444-9205 to register and obtain the Zoom link.
  • Berkeley Humane Society: Free virtual pet loss support group every 2nd Wednesday of the month, 7:00pm to 8:30pm PST. For more information, please call Jill Goodfriend, RN, LCSW at (510) 393-1359.
  • Pet Cloud: Online pet loss support chat rooms every Sunday from 3:00pm to 7:15pm PST. For more information and to register, please visit 
  • Rainbow Bridge: Pet loss grief support chat room open daily from 5:00am to 9:00am PST and from 9:00am to 12:00pm PST on Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday. For more information please visit:

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