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Grieving Pet Parents Start Group To Provide Support Before, During, And After Pet Loss

In February of 2012, Kathryn Jennings and her family were becoming overwhelmed by the stress of managing the chronic or terminal health conditions of their 3 Miniature Schnauzers: Pookie Poo, Hallie Boo, and Sallie Lou. Kathryn knew her family needed emotional support during this trying time as they continued to make difficult decisions regarding their beloved pets’ care and found that nothing appropriate existed. Kathryn decided she needed to create a place where families like hers could get the support they need during caregiving for seriously ill pets, making difficult decisions, and dealing with the grief before, during, and after the loss of a pet.

On September 23, 2012, Day By Day Pet Support was launched with a variety of services to help people cope with their grief. Kathryn recently spoke with us about Day By Day Pet Support.

Image courtesy of Kathryn Jennings.

Kathryn told us:

“I came up with the idea of having a non-profit where current pet caregivers anticipating a loss and those who had experienced a death could turn to pet loss professionals and also be connected with a community of pet caregivers at no cost. And I envisioned it to be a ‘when and how you need us’ organization, which is why we have so many support service offerings under one umbrella.”

Photo of Hallie Boo courtesy of Kathryn Jennings.

 

Day By Day Pet Support offers a 24/7 hotline (484-453-8210); email support (daybydaypetsupport@comcast.net); in-person support groups (with 9 groups in 5 states on the Mid-Atlantic coast); a Yahoo Group; online support chats; and a comprehensive website, including a veterinary staff support component. In the future, Day By Day is hoping to add even more support services such as daytime online support chats, an additional telephone hotline, and more in-person support. Kathryn added:

“We are currently looking into commercial office space in the Greater Philadelphia area where we plan on inviting pet families to come for individual counseling, family and children support, special events, and pet caregiver seminars. We also will continue to invite veterinary staff to utilize our veterinary staff support that includes continuing education workshops on how to comfort grieving clients, veterinary compassion fatigue support groups, comfort room consults, and more.”

Photo of Pookie Poo courtesy of Kathryn Jennings.

 

Even though losing a pet can be even more painful than losing a human family member, many people will shame others over what they perceive as excessive grief over the loss of “just a pet.” Day By Day works to assure people that grief is a natural human reaction to being torn apart from your beloved fur family member and encourages them to share their story and engage in memorializing their pet so they can remember the life and love they shared. (iHeartDogs also offers special ways to help you memorialize your pets.) Kathryn had this to say:

In the end, what many people these days experience is a relationship with their pet, not an ownership. Therefore, we must make it OK for pet families to feel what they are feeling, to allow them the opportunity to receive on-going support and encourage them to reach out when the pain becomes overwhelming. Because experiencing emotional pain doesn’t make someone weak; rather, reaching out makes them stronger.”

Photo of Sallie Lou courtesy of Kathryn Jennings.

 

To date, Day By Day has served over 250,000 pet caregiver families through the communities in which they currently serve. For more information on Day By Day Pet Caregiver Support, you can visit their website, email at daybydaypetsupport@comcast.net, or call them at 484-453-8210. You can also check out their Facebook page.

A big thank you to Kathryn Jennings for sharing her pictures and words with us!

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Written by Jennifer Nelson

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