SPCA of Texas Pet Grief Counselors

Dr. Diane Pomerance

Dr. Diane Pomerance is a highly acclaimed pet expert who received her Ph.D. in Communications from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

She is the author of 7 non-fiction books about animals, including WHEN YOUR PET DIES, ANIMAL ELDERS, ANIMAL COMPANIONS IN OUR HEARTS, OUR LIVES & OUR WORLD, and PET PARENTHOOD: ADOPTING THE RIGHT ANIMAL COMPANION FOR YOU. Her most recent book is OUR RESCUE DOG FAMILY ALBUM.

She is also a grief counselor who created and established the SPCA of Texas Pet Grief Counseling Program. Her special interest is in helping those mourning the loss of a beloved animal companion. She is the author of numerous articles and has been interviewed on countless radio and TV programs and in newspapers and magazines. She lives in North Texas with her 21 rescued canine children.


katie sharp, pet grief counseling

Dr. Katie Sharp

Dr. Katie Sharp earned her PhD in clinical psychology from the University of Kansas in May 2016 and moved to Dallas in July 2016 to start her post-doctoral training year, which she has since completed. Dr. Sharp now works at a private practice in Dallas. Throughout her graduate and internship-level training, her clinical interests and expertise have been focused on the conceptualization and treatment of anxiety and stress-related disorders. She has experienced firsthand the incredible pain that accompanies the loss of beloved animal companions and wanted to help other who felt alone and overwhelmed in their grief. Dr. Katie Sharp currently lives in Dallas with her husband, three cocker spaniels, and two cats.

“Although my six years of graduate training were invaluable to me as a psychotherapist, my six months as a grief counselor have no doubt furthered my therapeutic skills. This has not only helped me become a better Pet Grief Counselor, but also a better psychotherapist in general. In sum, the potential of the Pet Grief Counseling Program is far-reaching, and its services are desperately needed. People struggling with pet grief need counselors trained specifically in handling such sensitive issues – not necessarily professionals who are quick to pathologize and prescribe unneeded medication. Even if professionals are trained specifically in matters of grief, there are so many struggling people who cannot afford these services. I’m so grateful to Diane and to be a part of this program, and I would love to see it expand and reach ever increasing numbers of those in need.” – Dr. Katie Sharp


Cindy Cochran

Cindy Cochran

Cindy Cochran is a native of the Dallas/Fort Worth area and holds a Bachelor of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies, focused in business and music, from the University of Texas at Arlington.  A self-proclaimed free-spirit, Cindy has worked in a variety of settings, including a summer after college at the Interlochen Arts Camp in Michigan, and two summers at the Mt. McKinley Princess Lodge in Alaska.   For the past 14 years, she has worked for automotive marketing companies doing Ride & Drive events, primarily for Toyota.  Cindy first sought solace in the SPCA grief program after her beloved dog, Sweet Pea, died in 2015.   And then she returned to the grief meetings when her other beloved dog, Bull, died in 2017.  Cindy credits the program as being one of the best things she has ever done in her life…

“I was a complete wreck when Sweet Pea died and didn’t know where to turn.  After attending my first group meeting with the SPCA grief program, I literally walked out of there elated.  Yes I was still sad, of course….but being in the company of people that ‘get it’ was one of the most supportive and amazing experiences I’ve ever had.  So of course when Bull died, I went running back!” 

As a result of getting so much out of the grief program, Cindy ultimately decided to go through the training with Diane Pomerance in 2018 and become a grief counselor herself!  She wanted to “give back” and be a part of a program that so greatly helped her.  Cindy also had an opportunity in 2016 to attend a class jointly sponsored by The Pet Loss Center, the International Cemetery, Cremation and Funeral Association and the Pet Loss Professionals Alliance.  The class, taught by Coleen Ellis, was primarily for veterinarians, veterinary technicians, and pet cemetery workers; and Cindy was the only “layman” there!  For completing this class, she received a certification in Pet Loss and Grief Companioning.  She feels like she has a very strong calling to help people with pet loss and looks forward to furthering her grief education even more in the future, so she can be the best grief counselor she can be!


Zuzi Gomez-Chang

Zuzi Gomez-Chang

Zuzi Gomez-Chang is a native of Dallas Texas and currently works as a Veterinary Technician at a private animal hospital. Prior to working as a Veterinary Technician, she was an active duty military member completing two tours in Iraq with the United States Marine Corps. After leaving the military in 2009, she became a Certified Dog Trainer and Veterinary Assistant and worked at the SPCA in Watertown, NY. In 2013, she completed her Bachelor of Science in Biology from the State University of New York at Oswego. Zuzi has always had an interest in animals, animal behavior, and ecology. She is particularly fond of the special bond formed between humans and animals. Working as a Veterinary Technician has allowed her to see how important pets are to their owners and how much happiness they can bring to our lives. Her work involves caring for sick and injured animals and when necessary to assist in performing euthanasia. The grief associated with euthanasia is actually what let Zuzi to Diane and the Pet Grief Counseling Program. She wanted to communicate better with pet owners after their loss and refer them to a safe place to express their grief. Zuzi resides with her husband and 4 dogs and is currently pursuing a master’s degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling through Texas A&M University-Commerce.


donna manning

Donna Manning

Reverend Donna Manning is an ordained Baptist minister with over 30 years of chaplaincy experience in a variety of settings including prison, hospital, hospice, and military.  She holds the  Bachelor of Music, Master of Religious Education, and Master of Divinity degrees. She is a Clinical Member of the Association of Clinical Pastoral Education and a Board Certified Chaplain of the Association of Professional Chaplains.

 

 

Mike Sanning

Coming soon!


SPCA of Texas Celebrates the 16th Anniversary of a Unique Program
By Diane Pomerance, Ph.D.


My beloved Alaskan Malamute/Lab mix, Caesar, died of cancer at the age of 13 in December 1998 shortly after Christmas. I was devastated by the loss of my best friend and family member and sought resources to help me cope with the deep sadness and grief I was experiencing. At that time, there were very few (if any) resources in the Metroplex that could help someone adjust to the loss of a dearly loved pet.

I began researching and reading whatever books and articles I could find about coping with pet loss. My journey through grief culminated in my discovery of a wonderful book called The Grief Recovery Handbook which helped me in the healing process and the Grief Recovery Institute, a non-profit organization based in Los Angeles which offered grief counseling, training and certification programs from which I greatly benefited. I studied with John W. James, the author of the above-mentioned book and founder of the GRI. Through this organization I became a certified Grief Recovery Specialist. I brought my newfound knowledge and insight to the SPCA of Texas and, with the SPCA of Texas, I created the Pet Grief Counseling Program in 2000. The PGCP is a unique and pioneering program for the SPCA of Texas. As a flagship program, volunteers are trained by me and via a manual I have written based on Grief Recovery principles, and we provide counseling and assistance to those who are mourning the loss of a beloved animal companion.

As counselors, we are not professional psychologists or psychotherapists, simply well intentioned, empathetic and sympathetic volunteers. We have lost a loved pet—many of us have lost numerous pets—and we seek to help those who are suffering from and mourning the loss of a pet. We offer not only comfort and support but also compassion and valuable information about the grieving process. We attempt to provide the tools essential to helping people cope with and recover from their loss.

We are proud to celebrate the 16th anniversary of this flagship program, which serves members of our community in need. It is our hope that the PGCP also serves as a model or prototype for the development of similar programs at animal welfare organizations across the country. For so many of us, our pets are beloved family members as well as our best friends. When we lose them, we experience grief similar and comparable to that which we experience over any profound loss (human or other) in our lives. The PGCP is here to help people understand that there should be no shame or embarrassment associated with mourning the loss of a pet – rather, their grief over the loss of a beloved pet is completely normal, healthy and natural.

Join us the first Saturday of every month at 1:30 p.m. at the SPCA of Texas’ Jan Rees-Jones Animal Care Center at 2400 Lone Star Drive in Dallas and the third saturday of every month at 1:30 p.m. at the SPCA of Texas' Russell H. Perry Animal Care Center in McKinney. Telephone counseling is also available by calling 214-461-5131. All calls are confidential and returned within 24 hours.

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SPCA of Texas Voices

"I'm absolutely in LOVE with Kitty (formerly Kaleigh). I know her name isn't original at all but I just started calling her that until I could think of a name and it just stuck - it's so her! I've attached two photos - she's seriously the most beautiful kitty in the world! She loves to steal tennis balls and bones from her dog sister - she thinks she's a dog! She enjoys going for walks and car rides, snuggling with mom, bird watching, drinking from the sink, playing with her pipe cleaners and getting into mom's makeup in the mornings. I couldn't 'imagine life without her. She's the absolute best!"

Laureen Jankins

Pet Owner