Hotline for grieving pet owners shuts down

Services terminated after receiving many unrelated phone calls



Charlie Powell, instructor for Murrow College of Communications, said he supports pass/fail grading options for students who need it. He said he will analyze the progression of each of his students.

ELAYNE RODRIGUEZ, Evergreen reporter

The WSU College of Veterinary Medicine shut down its Pet Loss Hotline services last Monday after receiving a high number of unrelated phone calls from local pet owners.

Charlie Powell, public information officer for the veterinary medicine college, said two counselors trained the student veterinarian volunteers to talk about grief with pet owners.

The hotline offered services like helping pet owners deal with grief after the death of a pet or an expected death, he said.

Powell said people were calling the hotline about delicate subjects that sometimes had no relation to losing a pet.

They were having people calling them who were despondent, had stories about trauma or abuse, he said. Volunteers were not trained to deal with cases like that.

“We had one individual who sent us songs, and this was years after the animal had died, and demanded to be posted in places online,” Powell said.

The hotline also received an overwhelming number of calls for a period of time, he said.

“We were having an increasing amount of calls, where the counselors had to call back,” he said.

Powell said the number of incoming calls varied on time. The hotline received about 10 to 20 calls some weeks, and one or two calls other weeks.

Kathleen Ruby, retired WSU licensed counselor, said she helped to begin the hotline training 20 years ago.

Ruby said she received requests from students to start a Pet Loss Hotline to help pet owners with grief.

Students thought pet owners needed the additional help to deal with the crisis of euthanasia and health care, Ruby said.

Resources and additional information for the Pet Loss Hotline can be found at:

“We are sorry that the hotline had to go,” he said, “it is certainly something that could be reconsidered in the future.”