PUPPY EYES

Losing a pet can be extremely hard. For some, it's so tough they need extra support from a help-line.Washington State University veterinary students had a hotline to call if people were grieving from a dying animal. But now, that number is disconnected. WSU says, too many people were misusing the line.

When the pet loss hotline rings, the students answering expect someone grieving who is missing their furry friend. Someone like Celeste Flock.

"It was taking me a really long time to get through the grief of losing my dog," Flock, WSU pet loss hotline caller, said.

When she was studying at Gonzaga, a stray dog she adopted as a child, Cookie, had suddenly died. It left her heartbroken, never getting to say goodbye.

"It was difficult going to class, I spent a lot of time alone," Flock said.

Flock said she found comfort in talking to the students at WSU's pet loss hotline. But the university said, these past few years, the people calling needed more emotional and mental help than these students could offer.

"The grief response to peoples pets is quiet extraordinary, especially in today's world," Charlie Powell, Washington State University's Public Information Officer, said.

Powell said people would call the volunteers, saying the loss of their pet triggered other past traumas. When the students referred them to get professional help, people would continue to call back.

Powell said the hotline was intended for veterinary students to comfort people grieving a dying pet, but the conversations went much deeper than their level of training. So after 20 years, the university decided to shut the call center down.

But for the people like Celeste, whether they lost a cat, a service dog, a fish, or a ferret, this hotline made getting through each week, a little easier.

"If you don't have a pet, you kind of look at that and think 'why is it taking you so long to get over the loss of an animal?' But when it actually happens to you, it's so devastating," Powell said.

If you are grieving a pet, you can call the Utah State University Veterinary School pet loss hotline at 435-757-4540.