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Edmonton’s first veterinarian social worker supports pet owners

By Nora Mohamad on March 20, 2023

A local vet clinic is the first to hire a veterinary social worker in Edmonton. Joey Leslie joined the Edmonton Holistic Veterinary Clinic team in March 2022. Her job is to support pet owners through pet loss; however, she helps everyone whenever needed. She began as a social worker for many years until she was inspired to change her career after she lost her beloved dog Bean, a small black pitbull. Recently she adopted Charlotte, a large blond pitbull who is often with Leslie at the clinic.

“I didn’t know that veterinary social work was a thing. I’d experienced my own pet loss and I was having trouble with it. And then I thought to myself, “well, I’m a social worker. I should be able to help other people who experienced pet loss as well.” Then I randomly I had an old colleague send me a job posting for this job. And I put my name in, and I was the successful candidate,” said Joey Leslie, Veterinary Social Worker.

Leslie wants to help others cope with their grief after their pet loss, and she said anyone is welcome to seek her services before their pet passes.

“Grief can be really intense for people cause it’s directly related to the amount of love that somebody has for the animal that they’ve lost. So talking about it and being able to share stories and being able to process all of those feelings is really important.”

Services are available immediately and anyone can have as many sessions as they need. Leslie supports families as a group; she has spoken to husbands and wives together and separately. She welcomes children into her services too.

An appointment with Leslie ranges between $65 to $100, depending on the situation’s complexity or how long someone wants to talk. Leslie encourages pet owners and their families to share about the life they had with their animals.

Clients already seeking services at the clinic have sessions included at no additional cost. Somebody from the community seeking services must pay fees for sessions. Leslie’s free pet loss support group runs twice a month.

Leslie’s work includes presenting at other veterinary clinics and supporting veterinary staff.

The Edmonton Holistic Veterinary Clinic moved to its current location in October 2022. They hope the new place helps them improve the quality of their services. They aim to go full steam ahead to get their veterinary support services out to the community.



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