Pet Columns, Office of Public Engagement, College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

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Client Counselor Encourages Celebration of Pet Memorial Day

Pet Column for the week of September 6, 2006

Related information:

Services - Pet Loss

Office of Public Engagement
2001 S. Lincoln Ave.
Urbana, Illinois 61802
Phone: 217/333-2907
Christine Beuoy
Information Specialist

Sunday, September 10, is National Pet Memorial Day, and experts at the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine, Urbana, Ill., hope animal owners and others will take time to recognize that pets, living or past, are worth cherishing.

According to Cheryl Weber, the client counselor specialist at the College's Veterinary Teaching Hospital, National Pet Memorial Day can be a good time for both pet owners and "non-animal people" to recognize that everyone experiences loss and that it's healthy for pet lovers to acknowledge their love for their pets and the grief they feel when a pet dies.

A few of the ways Weber recommends for celebrating National Pet Memorial Day are:

  • Sharing photos and stories of former pets and thinking about the joy they've brought us;
  • Visiting a pet's burial site, holding a remembrance ceremony, or creating a living memorial by planting a tree, bush, or flowerbed;
  • Doing something to benefit animals, such as volunteering for a rescue group, pet-sitting for a friend, or donating to an animal-related charity.

Weber says even those who are not animal lovers can show support for a friend or co-worker who loses a pet by simply giving a sympathy card or saying "I'm sorry you lost your cat."

Background and Resources

Cheryl Weber is a licensed social worker with experience in human hospice care who works as the client counselor specialist at the Veterinary Teaching Hospital at the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine. She assists hospital veterinarians by providing emotional support for pet owners, teaches a class about bereavement issues, and advises the C.A.R.E. Helpline.

The C.A.R.E. Helpline is a confidential telephone service for people grieving the actual or anticipated loss of their companion animal. It is run by students at the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine. The number is 244-CARE locally or 877/394-CARE toll free. The Web site ( has information on the grieving process.

The College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Illinois is one of only 28 veterinary schools in the United States and the only one in Illinois. It offers Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, master's, and PhD degrees, conducts research on a broad range of biomedical and agricultural topics; and provides service to the public through numerous educational outlets as well as through its Veterinary Teaching Hospital and Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory.

The Companion Animal Memorial Fund was established at the College of Veterinary Medicine to help veterinarians express compassion by memorializing clients' pets and at the same time contributing to research that benefits other companion animals.

National Pet Memorial Day, sponsored by the International Association of Pet Cemeteries, occurs each year on the second Sunday in September.