Research has shown that more than a third of animal lovers are so affected by the loss of their pet that they still mourn them a year later. For many, the death of a horse is a horrendous and sometimes unexpected experience.
Christmas and New Year, traditional times of celebration, can often intensify these emotions and act as a painful reminder of the loss.
The Pet Bereavement Support Service, a confidential helpline run jointly by the Blue Cross and The Society of Companion Animal Studies (SCAS), aims to provide support and compassion to people mourning their pet.
The service is manned by trained “telephone befrienders” and has seen a 70% increase in calls over the past 18 months.
“Bereavement can affect all ages and walks of life. It’s definitely not just the domain of the elderly or those who live alone,” says Lillian Green, a befriender. “I have received calls from people aged seven to 97, and most of them are actually part of a family or share a household withothers – they just need someone who will listen to them without judgement and really understand what they are feeling”.
The Pet Bereavement Support Service is open daily from 8.30am to 5pm, with an answerphone outside these hours. Their number is: freephone 0800 096 6606.