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Pet Loss and Grieving Services

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pet loss

The Humane Society of Broward recognizes that the relationship between a companion animal and a person is a special one. When that beloved pet dies, an important love bond is broken. Most people suffer grief and mourning. These feelings must be acknowledged in order to resolve them. Many adults find it difficult to acknowledge and show their grief over a pet for fear of being thought of as “silly.” On the contrary, grieving the loss of a pet is a natural process and many of the feelings and reactions are similar to those of grieving the loss of a person.

The loss of a pet may result in strong emotional experiences and even physical disturbances. Our personalities, along with our emotions, undergo changes; we become distressed and this distress may be expressed in mood swings. We are left with anger and loneliness, emptiness and perhaps guilt. We wonder how to deal with these emotions and disturbances.

The healthiest way to deal with loss and the associated feelings is to allow ourselves to mourn. After all, this pet played an intricate part in our lives and may have met many of our emotional needs. Not to acknowledge this loss and let the grief go unexpressed can lead to future emotional and possibly physical disturbances.

Rainbow Bridge 

Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.

When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge.
There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together.
There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.

All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor; those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by. The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.

They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent; His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.

You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.

Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together….

– Author Unknown

Before Choosing Another Pet

Before choosing another pet, seek counsel from your veterinarian concerning different breeds; visit the Humane Society and ask questions. Explain your loss and describe your lifestyle so that staff can help you choose the pet that is right for you.

Many well-meaning people may urge you to “get another pet” right away. This is not recommended as it may lead to problems when relating to your new pet, and inhibit healthy grieving. The first mistake may be choosing an animal strictly because it looks like the one who was lost. So many expectations will be placed on the new animal that disaster will be inevitable. Animal shelters are full of pets who did not meet someone’s expectations.

No animal can take the place of a lost pet. Each animal, as with each person, has a unique personality; no two are alike. Specific breeds have basic characteristics, but no two individuals from that breed will have the same personality. In choosing another pet, some people decide to stay with the same breed because they are familiar with that breed’s traits, while other people take the opportunity to change breeds so that certain traits will not evoke memories. The second mistake commonly made is to surprise someone with a pet as a replacement. Unless the adult or child has gone through the grieving process and has shown an interest in another pet or has requested one, people should not try to be helpful by acting on the idea that they know what’s good for you.

Attend a Supoprt Meeting

The Humane Society of Broward County holds a support group on the second and fourth Tuesday of the month at 5:30 p.m. Call 954.266.6834 for more information and to leave your name and phone number. Resources are also available through the Association for Pet Loss and Bereavement

The Humane Society of Broward County is proud to be a Purina Shelter Champions Partner.


The Humane Society of Broward County provides shelter, aid and responsible adoptions
to animals entrusted to our care, and educates the community about respect and kindness to all animals.

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