Pet Loss: Where Veterinary Professionals Turn for Training

As veterinary clinics across the country add or remodel euthanasia/comfort rooms, the issue of training personnel on responding to emotional clients becomes more pressing. An increasing number of veterinary schools provide pet bereavement classes, and the Association for Pet Loss and Bereavement (APLB), a non-profit organization, offers a 10-hour workshop for veterinary team members and other professionals. It has drawn at least 45 students each year, said Wallace Sife, PhD, president of the APLB and author of The Loss of a Pet (Howell Book House, May 1998).

The second International Conference on Pet Loss and Bereavement will be held May 28-30 in New York City and has drawn several dozen veterinary professionals who receive 10 CE credits and a certificate for completing the course.

Sandra Coffin, a specialist in pet loss and bereavement at Alameda East Veterinary Hospital in Colorado and APLB member, plans to attend the conference. “It will reinforce that I’m saying all the right things, that I’m being as thorough as possible,” said Coffin. “This is a very important part of the veterinary business. In fact I think it is the most important part.”

Referring to a statistic from The Clinical Textbook for Veterinary Technicians (W.B. Saunders Co., 2002), Coffin said that 40 percent of people who euthanize their animals will change veterinarians because of negative experiences. The opposite has been true at Alameda East. “I’ve had several clients come to Alameda East because of the experience they’ve had [euthanizing previous animals] with us,” Coffin said. “It’s wonderful when clients find me to introduce me to their new pet.”