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University of Missouri Launches Pet Loss Counseling

Posted: Nov. 19, 2013, 3:30 p.m. EST

Pet owners grieving the death or impending loss of a dog, cat or other companion animal may enroll in a counseling service offered through the University of Missouri College of Veterinary Medicine.

The new program, called Together In Grief, Easing Recovery (TIGER), is available for free to clients of the university’s Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital.

Francesca Tocco, a doctoral student in the School of Nursing and in the Research Center for Human-Animal Interaction, designed the service.

 Francesca Tocco
Francesca Tocco
"Companion animals make a strong and lasting mark on the lives of their human counterparts,” Tocco said. "This bond does not disappear when those animals pass away. Strong emotional and physical reactions such as grief, pain, shock, anxiety and guilt are healthy and normal. These reactions can often be overwhelming, which is why TIGER strives to provide assistance and support to those going through this difficult time.”

TIGER focuses on a range of issues, including:


• Moral and ethical concerns related to animal health care.

• Family counseling.

• Anticipation of an animal’s death.

• How to talk to children about animal health and death.

Veterinary professionals may learn from TIGER as well, said Rebecca Johnson, RN, Ph.D., the director of the Research Center for Human-Animal Interaction.

"The program aims to help people during these difficult experiences, and also to assist doctors and students at the [hospital] in helping their clients,” Johnson said.

Funding for the program came from the College of Veterinary Medicine and University of Missouri alumnus William Canney.


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University of Missouri Launches Pet Loss Counseling

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Reader Comments
I glad to hear more organizations are focusing on this difficult area of veterinary medicine
Sara, Seattle, WA
Posted: 12/4/2013 10:13:24 AM
Good Luck with your Pet Loss Service. It is much needed and will improve the quality of lie for both owners and future companion animals.
Stephanie, Urbana, IL
Posted: 11/28/2013 1:49:47 PM
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