Grieving the Loss of a Cherished Pet

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 Dr. Betty Carmack. Carmack was prompted to offer her services after the accidental death of one of her animals. Today, Dr. Carmack, Professor Emerita at the University of San Francisco School of Nursing and author of 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 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 explains.

Pet Loss Support Group Sessions

No reservations are needed. Groups meet on the first Tuesday of every month from 7:30-9pm in the SF SPCA Humane Education Classroom, located at 243 Alabama Street. (View map)

Additional 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

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