Veterinary Social Work Service 

The human-animal bond is a cherished relationship. Pets are members of our families who enrich our lives with unconditional and unspoken love. Our compassion and care for them is endless. 

When a beloved companion animal becomes sick, we may be faced with difficult and overwhelming decisions about their care. The Veterinary Social Work Service is a unique offering from the Ontario Veterinary College (OVC) to help guide pet owners through their worry, stress and grief. 



What is Veterinary Social Work? 

Veterinary social work is a discipline that supports the human-animal bond. Veterinary social workers have a deep understanding of the emotional connection we share with animals, the many benefits of this connection, and the emotional and ethical concerns that pet owners may experience during a pet health crisis. Veterinary social workers are members of the patient care team and uniquely positioned to bridge the gap between pet owners and the veterinary team when needed.

The Veterinary Social Work Service at OVC 

Sarah Bernardi, RSW, MSW

Sarah Bernardi is a registered social worker providing services to OVC’s Companion Animal Hospital, Large Animal Hospital and Animal Cancer Centre. She has worked in the veterinary social work field since 2017 and collaborates with team members to enhance patient outcomes, client experience and caregiver support. 




The Veterinary Social Work Service is available free of charge to clients whose animals are patients of the OVC Health Sciences Centre*. During your time at OVC, Sarah can be available to: 

  • Provide emotional and decision-making support during emergency medical treatment, quality-of-life conversations and euthanasia  
  • Act as a liaison between you and the veterinary medical team by helping communicate your questions, concerns and needs, and by assuring the medical team’s information is presented in a manner that you can understand 
  • Provide crisis intervention  
  • Be present before, during and/or after euthanasia if you wish 
  • Provide you with resources for other mental health and community supports, and
  • Provide confidential, short-term grief support 

If you have experienced the loss of a pet, Sarah will reach out to you to offer optional support if needed. If you prefer not to be contacted, please email Sarah at 

Accessing OVC’s Veterinary Social Work Service 

To connect with Sarah, email or call 519-823-8830. Hours of service are Monday through Friday from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm.
*The Veterinary Social Work Service is not available at the Smith Lane Animal Hospital (Primary Healthcare Centre)