Pandemic increases pet bereavement support calls

The death of a pet is heart-breaking whenever it happens, but if you’re not able to be with your pet during euthanasia or give them the experience you’d prefer, such as in the comfort of your home, it can be even more difficult to deal with.

This is what some pet owners have had to face during the coronavirus pandemic. Government imposed restrictions and tightened safety measures have meant that many veterinary and pet crematorium services have inevitably had to change. Social distancing and self-isolation have also kept pets and owners apart when it’s time to say goodbye.

According to the Guardian, Diane James, who manages the Blue Cross pet bereavement support service, said the number of people contacting them had increased from a few thousand 5 years ago to over 14,000 last year. Diane added that during December 2020 there had been a 38% rise in calls year on year.

Head vet Catherine Corden-Parry believes it’s no wonder animal bereavement helplines have reported a significant increase in the number of calls they have received for support during the pandemic.

To many people, pets are viewed as cherished members of the family so losing a pet can have a significant impact on your everyday life. For some, pets are their main or only companion, and losing them during this prolonged period of isolation and distancing can compound feelings of loneliness and despair.

Actor and comedian Miranda Hart recently lost her beloved dog Peggy and announced she would be taking time off work to grieve. She wrote about Peggy’s death on her Instagram page, saying: “Fellow dog owners will know the excruciating sadness of losing your loyal, loving best friend.”

Unfortunately, time off for pet bereavement isn’t something you’ll find in your typical employment contract. Catherine believes Miranda’s announcement and the reported rise in bereavement support calls highlights the need for pet owners to take time out to grieve, and for those around them to be sympathetic to the impact of their loss.

In the Guardian’s article, the Blue Cross animal charity and Cats Protection UK said they had received many more calls from people who were unable to be with their dying pets due to social distancing rules and vets had to euthanise pets alone.

This has been extremely difficult for vets, nurses and support staff too. “Pets have a special place in our hearts and saying goodbye is always hard,” says Catherine who wants clients to know that if for whatever reason they’re unable to be with their pet at the end, the team at Northlands Veterinary Hospital will treat their pet with the compassion, love, and dignity they deserve.

If you or anyone in your family has recently been affected by pet loss, the Blue Cross pet bereavement support service is there to offer understanding, support, and advice.