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Support group assists with loss of pet

Date: 10/17/2014

WEST SPRINGFIELD – Doreen A. P. McDonald has been drawn to animals since childhood so her support group, Ark Angels, is a unique extension of her love for all creatures large and small.

“The group provides a non-judgmental environment for individuals and families to grieve the loss of a pet companion, and to bring healing to all who come,” she said during a recent interview with Reminder Publications.

Gatherings are conducted once a month at the West Springfield Public Library, currently located at 511 Main St. while construction continues at the Elm Street site. Upcoming meetings are slated Nov. 5 and Dec. 10 from 7 to 8 p.m. in the adult program room.

On the evening of Oct. 8, McDonald noted that three area residents attended the meeting to share their experiences, and discussion also centered on society’s openness to accept animals as part of the family.

“I never know how many people will attend the meeting,” she said, adding that her goal is always to provide understanding, compassion and most of all, the hope of opening one’s heart to another animal who seeks a loving home.

McDonald has had her share of pet loss over the years so her insight as well as being a certified medium from the Morris Pratt Institute enables her to provide grief counseling. She is also a member of the Western Massachusetts chapter of Animal Rights Advocates, based in Florence.

“No matter where you are in your grieving process, talking about your loss with supportive people is the most effective way to move through it,” she said.

During the day McDonald serves as the activity and volunteer coordinator at the South Hadley Council on Aging, and she also relishes the opportunity to provide community lectures on how pets affect our lives.

“Animals have different concepts of passing than we do,” she said, adding that on occasion during a meeting a pet will come through to McDonald so she can pass a message on.

“I believe the soul does continue,” she added.

For McDonald, her own beloved pets that have passed, “Iris,” and “Bryan,” make a spiritual connection with her from time to time.

“I may be exercising upstairs and hear a meow downstairs, or I might see Iris walk by in the kitchen,” she said. “Bryan was a cuddle bug so there are times I feel and sense his presence.”

McDonald also noted that people have “special bonds” with their animals and appreciate being able to talk with individuals who share their compassion for animals and who understand the impact of their loss.

“I am dedicated to serving the community by helping people who are grieving for companion animals they have lost,” she said.

For more information, contact McDonald at 732-0373 or via email to

McDonald added that the Dec. 10 meeting will feature mini readings as well as a discussion on animals crossing over.