Skip to main content

Social Workers Support Families in the Ohio State Veterinary Medical Center

Joelle Nielsen

Pets are an important part of our families and the serious
illness or death of a pet can be devastating. At The Ohio State University
Veterinary Medical Center, a trained social worker helps support families
through difficult times. The month of March celebrates the contributions of
social workers in society, and the College of Veterinary Medicine recognizes
their important work and our collaborations through the Honoring the Bond program.

Joelle Nielsen, veterinary social worker, coordinates the
Honoring the Bond program, working with veterinary faculty, staff, students,
and most importantly the clients served by the experts in the Veterinary
Medical Center.

first learned about the program when I contacted social worker Dr. Jennifer
Brandt, after I learned that my beloved cat Kino was gravely ill," said Joelle. "She helped found the Honoring the Bond program at Ohio State, and provided
compassionate support as well as beneficial information to me when I was making
end-of-life decisions. I was so grateful to have her assistance and now am proud
to have the opportunity to help others in similar situations." 

Honoring the Bond program in the Veterinary Medical Center was one of the first
programs in the nation to include a
licensed social worker on the veterinary health care team, offering support
services to pet owners.

Some of the free services offered

  • Providing immediate, in-person or
    telephone emotional support and crisis intervention to pet owners;
  • Being
    present with or for companion animal owners during the delivery of “bad” news
    (terminal illness, unexpected diagnosis) and euthanasia procedures, and
    supporting and educating owners as they make difficult decisions regarding the
    healthcare of their pets (treatment, euthanasia, surgery, etc.);
  • Acting
    as a liaison between the companion animal owner and veterinary health care team
  • Providing
    needs assessment and referral for companion animal owners who require more
    in-depth assistance (long-term therapy, crisis intervention, etc.)
  • Answering
    inquiries that are sent via email; and
  • The
    Companion Animal Listening Line (C.A.L.L). 
    The CALL is a nationally recognized and utilized hotline service answered
    by veterinary or social work student volunteers who have been trained to
    support and educate pet owners.

Social work has a rich history of bringing people together
to support families and individuals in need. 
We are proud or our collaborations between the College of Social Work
(CSW) and the College of Veterinary Medicine (CVM) and the contributions of social
workers to our college and Veterinary Medical Center, veterinary profession,
and society.

Remembrance Ceremony
At the 2nd Annual Companion Animal Remembrance Ceremony, owners hung hearts on a tree,
in memory of their companion animals. Here, Joelle offers support to one of the owners.

For more information about our Honoring the Bond program, please visit


Last updated: 

Friday, March 18, 2011 - 5:33pm