The Chautauqua County Humane Society sponsored Pet Loss Bereavement Support Group meets monthly on the first Tuesday of each month from 5:30-7 p.m. in the Prendergast Library's second floor conference room. The support group is open to anyone 18 years of age or older who is experiencing grief from the passing of a beloved pet. The Prendergast Library is located at 509 Cherry St. in Jamestown.
The support group is facilitated by Maggie Irwin, LMSW; Roberta Thompson, MSW; and Jennifer Morse, RVT.
Irwin, a retired social worker, has been a Jamestown resident since 2001. She is a volunteer at the Chautauqua County Humane Society, participating in fundraising, cat socialization and humane education. She also does pet therapy with two of her three golden retrievers at the WCA inpatient medical rehabilitation center, WCA drug and alcohol inpatient rehab, Hospice and Chautauqua Adult Day Care's Present Center. In 1997, Irwin earned her Master in Social Work from Columbia University. Since 2007, she has been the facilitator for the Alzheimer's Association Caregiver Support Group held monthly in Jamestown.
Irwin said recently, "Through my volunteer work, I can see the huge difference pets make in people's lives. Making this support group available will now allow us to help the owners who have given so much to their pets' lives."
Jennifer Morse has been a licensed veterinary technician for over 30 years. She said, "While working at multiple veterinary hospitals in California and New York, I have seen the increasing need for bereaved pet owners to have a place to voice their grief and receive support."
Morse, having assisted in countless humane euthanasia situations and having witnessed pet deaths has a unique set of experiences to draw upon and offer guidance to the grieving pet owner.
Roberta Thompson holds a Master's degree in Social Work from the University at Buffalo and a post-graduate certificate in Animals and Human Health from the University of Denver's Graduate School of Social Work. She is a volunteer at the Chautauqua County Humane Society, participating as a dog walker and as a volunteer in the feral cat humane spay/neuter release program. Thompson is also the pet companionship coordinator for the recently created Pet Companionship Therapeutic Services of Hospice of Chautauqua County.
Commenting on the formation of a pet-loss support group, Thompson said, "As pet owners, my husband and I have experienced first hand the heart break that the death of a pet brings. It is our hope that this group can offer a compassionate, supportive environment to adults experiencing sadness from the death of a pet."
For questions or for more information on this free service, contact Roberta Thompson at 664-1080.