Pet loss counseling available

LEWISTOWN – The American Red Cross serving central Pennsylvania announced a new service that will support those who have lost a pet during a disaster.

Ruth Rudderow, a Red Cross volunteer and a certified pet loss bereavement counselor, has been researching pet bereavement for years and said her interest in helping others led her to pursue this idea.

“I got a bachelor’s degree in social work at Penn State University. I enjoy helping people,” she said.

During her research, Rudderow said she found there was such a thing as pet bereavement counselors, and there was an online course she could take to become one.

“I found the Association for Pet Loss and Bereavement website and they offer an online course to become a counselor. I passed the course and set up the program at the Harrisburg Humane Society,” she said.

Rudderow had friends that were Red Cross volunteers, and through those friendships her program got attention and interest from the Red Cross.

“I was wondering if (the Red Cross) would be interested in it. When I told

them about it they were excited about it,” she said.

For now, Rudderow is the only certified counselor with the Red Cross and plans on being available to communities all over the central part of Pennsylvania. When a disaster occurs, local Red Cross workers will contact her if her services are needed.

“When a disaster team meets with the family or individuals that have had a fire, or a flood, or whatever happens in their life, if they find they have a lost pet, they will give them my information so if the person is having a hard time dealing with the loss they can contact me and I could give them suggestions or ideas to try and help them,” she said.

Rudderow said when there is a disaster that affects a lot of people, like the Juniata Terrace Fire, she will still try find ways to talk to each person one-on-one.

“When there is a situation where a lot of people are in a shelter I could see myself going to that shelter and talking to them one-on-one. (Her job) is more helping them deal with their grief and providing tips and suggestions,” she said.

Rudderow said she also is available to help people whose pets ran away during the course of a disaster.

For more information about this program, contact Ruth Rudderow by calling (866) 311-3832, ext.1677, or email