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Local non profit starting pet loss support group

Pets become like family over the years and when one dies, the sadness a family feels is sometimes just like losing a human. There are numerous support groups for losing loved ones but it's rare to have one for pets. There is a local non profit who is creating a space to help grieving pet owners get through it.

Posted: Aug. 15, 2018 5:57 PM
Updated: Aug. 16, 2018 11:14 AM

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WFFT)- Some people would say you never know until you go through it. That was the case for Dawn Hammer.

"When people were upset that their pet died, I guess I just didn't understand it completely. Now that i've had five pets over the years I completely understand. I mean they are a family member. It's a true loss like a human being," she said

Hammer has completed her support group training.

She is now a grief group facilitator at the Peggy F. Murphy Community Grief Center.

She'll be joining a few other facilitators to help people with the loss of their pets.

"I do think that sometimes it can be underestimated. There's all types of dogs or animals in general that are pets for people. there's service dogs, therapy dogs, there's emotional support animals, and then just a regular pet, but I think they all serve a great purpose for different things," Hammer added.

It’s a grief the communications director, Bonnie Blackburn-Penhollow, said many are experiencing in the community.

"We're getting more inquiries from the community from veterinarian offices, and from families that lost a pet. The feelings are devastating and that's why it's open to families with children," Blackburn-Penhollow said.

David Wust who is the bereavement and grief counselor said if it all goes well, the pet loss support group will be extended.

"It will start out as just once a month, but depending on the response that we get, the first night, we may move it to bi-weekly," Wust said.

Wust added being around people going through the same thing often provides results in some level of comfort.

They are getting the word out now to help people September 19th which is when they will start the program. It will be held every 3rd Wednesday of every month.

If you think this is something you would like to try, it will be from 5:30pm to 7pm and it's free.

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