England, United Kingdom (PressExposure) December 17, 2013 -- A former senior executive with retail giants Tesco and New Look is launching a new venture as a pet bereavement counsellor.
Businesswoman Tracey Peters says there is a gap in the market that desperately needs filling and has set up Dorset-based Pets Past and Present to do just that.
"There are numerous services to help people when they lose a loved one. But it has dawned on me that actually there is very little in the way of help and support when pets die."
"I have been training as a bereavement counsellor for five years I have worked with many different clients groups, and it just struck me that there didn't seem to be anything much for people grieving over their pets.
As an animal lover and someone who has had pets all her life, I thought that was a bit odd and that it was something that really needed addressing."
One experience in particular was key in her decision to establish the service, she said "I was counselling an elderly gentleman with cancer and we spent the first three sessions talking about nothing but his cat, the best part of three hours over three weeks. So I went to see if I could find him some specialist support and I realised there really wasn't any."
"If you think about it, anyone who has a pet probably has to face up to the prospect of losing them at some stage and that can be absolutely devastating.
And it isn't always simply about a pet dying. Some people are separated from a pet through a divorce or because they are going into a nursing home and can't take their pet with them. They may have been happy companions for many years.
And that's before you even begin to talk about trauma of putting your pets to sleep - that can be incredibly traumatic. Not just going through that experience but also the questions around it. Did I do it too soon? Did I leave it too late?'"
Tracey's business offers services to veterinary practices. She is currently working with the College of Animal Welfare to develop a course for veterinary nurses.
"Veterinary practices offer very professional medical services and investing in a professional training course around pet bereavement will ensure staff always offer a really caring and compassionate service."
The name Pets Past and Present has been deliberately chosen to reflect how animals remain part of their owners' lives, even after they have passed.
"We often talk about them as though they are still here, still part of the family."
The businesswoman lives with her husband Michael in the Purbecks, England and the couple have a rescue German Shepherd, Bonnie, and two cats, Boris and Billy.
Tracey's career includes being second in command in Human Resources at New Look and a personnel manager at Tesco. She has also worked for Reuters and still runs an HR business consultancy advising among others, the NHS.
Counselling sessions are offered in person at Tracey's home or the client's, on the telephone or by Skype, so clients can be offered the service wherever they live.