Recognizing the depth of the human-animal bond, social workers are a part of veterinary teams to help address the human needs of both clients and veterinary professionals that occur during animals’ care. Social workers offer support to animal owners during emotionally difficult situations. They offer support to veterinary professionals who are faced by the emotional toll of patient loss or illness daily.
UW Veterinary Care’s (UWVC) Veterinary Support Services is available to UWVC clients free of charge. The UWVC medical team may ask Veterinary Support Services to offer support during an animal’s care.
We appreciate your understanding and patience regarding Veterinary Support Services being prioritized for in-hospital patient families.
Support for clients
- Assist in planning ahead for potential medical crisis, chronic illness, or end of life.
- Act as a liaison between client and veterinary medical team
- Support during times of uncertainty, diagnostic testing, and/or treatment
- Facilitate processing animal’s diagnosis and treatment options
- Talking through when the time is right to stop treatment for client/family and animal
- Discuss consideration of possible choice to end animal’s pain and suffering
- Help in making quality of life assessments
- Be present before, during, and/or after euthanasia
- Be present, if client cannot be present during euthanasia
- Help guide family discussions with children regarding animal’s illness, possibility of death, or death
- Support to caregivers of animals with chronic illnesses
- Individual, couple or family anticipatory grief and grief support
- Facilitate Animal Loss Support Group: UWVC Together in Pet Loss
Resources for Pet Parents
- Lap of Love article How Will I Know It's Time to Say Goodbye? gives helpful information about how and when to make this very difficult decision.
- Lap of Love Pet Quality of Life Scale
- Lap of Love Daily Assessment
- Journeys Home Pet Quality of Life Scale Calculator
- Quality of Life Scale The HHHHHMM Scale
- UWVC Together in Pet Loss - Meets virtually on the first Tuesday and third Wednesday of each month from 7:00 PM – 8:00 PM.
- Pet Loss Resource Center (PLRC) - Pet Loss Support Group facilitated by Memorial Pet Services’ Grief Support Counselors
- Association of Pet Loss and Bereavement - Website offers many wonderful resources to those who are dealing with pet loss
- Rainbow Bridge - A virtual memorial home and grief support community
- Helping children cope - “6 Family Friendly Ways to Help Kids Grieve After Pet Loss”
- Dane County’s 24-Hour Crisis/Suicide Prevention Hotline at Journey Mental Health: 608-280-2600
- The 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline provides free and confidential support for anyone experiencing a suicidal, mental health, and/or substance use crisis: Call 988 (multiple languages), text to 988 (English only) or chat feature at 988lifeline.org (English only)
- Crisis Text Line: Text HOME to 741741 from anywhere in the United States, anytime, about any type of crisis. A live trained Crisis Counselor receives the text and responds from the Crisis Text Line’s secure online platform
- Veteran’s Crisis Line: 1-800-273-8255 and Press 1 or text 838255, 24/7 service for veterans and their loved ones
- The Trevor Project: 1-866-488-7386 or text START to 678678, 24/7 crisis support services to LGBTQ+ people
Meet our Team
Rhonda Nichols, MSW, LCSW
UW Veterinary Care's full-time, on-site licensed clinical social worker (LCSW)
Lee Xiong, Social Work Intern
UW-Madison Social Work graduate student
If you are interested in further resources or connecting with UW Veterinary Care’s social worker, please email: