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Death of a Pet


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Since cats, dogs and other animals commonly kept as pets do not live as long as humans do, owners must face the death of their beloved companions at some point. It is natural and necessary for individuals to grieve at such a time, but compassion and support can help make their grief easier to bear.

We all know how much our companion animals mean to us and appreciate the unique relationships we have with them. Many of us consider them important family members because they provide companionship, acceptance, security and love. They contribute to our health and well-being, and are always there for us.

When a companion animal grows old and sick or is injured accidentally, powerful emotions such as grief, guilt and anger are normal reactions. Dealing with these feelings can be difficult. Many people find it helpful to talk with someone who is familiar with these issues.


Stephanie LaFarge, Ph.D., The ASPCA’s Director of Counseling Services, is available to talk with anyone who is coping with loss or other relationship issues. This is a free service.

She can help with:

  • Deciding on euthanasia
  • Attending to the special needs of children, older adults and differently-abled
  • Making arrangement for the animal’s remains
  • Helping surviving pets relate to the loss of their companion
  • Deciding when to bring home a new companion animal.

You can reach Dr. LaFarge at (212) 876-7700, ext. 4355 on weekdays from 9 A.M. to 4 P.M. Dr. LaFarge will get in touch with you as soon as possible.

Professional Consultation
Dr. LaFarge provides advice to social service agencies and humane organizations that are interested in creating a counseling program of their own. In addition, she offers consultations to mental health professionals who want to discuss psychosocial issues concerning the human/animal bond.

Recommended Reading


  • When Your Pet Dies: How to Cope with Your Feelings; Jamie Quackenbush, M.S.W., and Denise Graveline; Simon & Shuster; 1985. Call the American Animal Hospital Association at (800) 252-2242 to order.
  • Coping with the Loss of a Pet: A Gentle Guide for All Who Love a Pet; Christina M. Lemieux, Ph.D.; Wallace R. Clark & Company; 1988. Call the publisher at (800) 342-9968 to order.


  • I’ll Always Love You; Hans Wilhelm; Crown Publishers; 1985. Call the publisher at (800) 733-3000 to order.
  • Because of Flowers and Dancers; Sandra S. Brackenridge; Veterinary Practice Publishing; 1994. Call the publisher at (805) 965-1028 to order.

Courtesy of
424 East 92nd St.
New York, NY 10128-6804
(212) 876-7700

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