Austin Animal Center starts new weekly pet loss support groups

For many of us, our pets are our family and when it's time to say goodbye to them, it can be as difficult as having a family member die. Two local organizations are teaming up to help Austinites cope with that loss.

They are man's best friend, our four legged friends, and our fur babies. They give us unconditional love and see us through both our best and worst of times.

Jennifer Williams is a counselor with Capital Area Counseling “Whether it's divorce or a break up or the death of other family members, the pet is sort of the constant that's there through all of that,” she said.

Williams said research is showing animals are the primary relationships in many people’s lives and losing them can be traumatic. “All of the feelings of loss of guilt of maybe I could've done more, not having been with them when the pet passed, it's really complex, complicated grief she said.

Kristin Auerbach with the Austin Animal Center said she saw a need to open the dialogue on this topic, since working at the shelter. “Some of the people who come, they've lost their pets at the end of their life, other people may have lost a pet that was never found, others maybe had to give up a pet.”

Auerbach tossed around the idea of a pet loss support group. “For pets it's not quite the same, so we wanted to create that space so people can really talk about that and work through it and get support.” She said Capital Area Counseling jumped on board.

“I think that's one of the things that doesn't feel like it's okay to say, is that the loss of a pet is often more difficult than the loss of a person, we make a lot of space for that to be okay for people to really grieve,” Williams said.

Although fairly new, Auerbach said the support group has been a success. “We believe Austin is such an animal loving community we know that perhaps more than anywhere else in the country. There are a lot of people that have lost pets, we're really excited to be offering this here at Austin Animal Center,” she said.

You get more information about the group on its Facebook page here.