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March 12, 2024

New program at UNE will train students as end-of-life pet doulas

Aerial view of college campus in Biddeford Courtesy / University of New England The University of New England has campuses in Biddeford, shown here, and Portland, as well as overseas in Tangier, Morocco.

The University of New England is expanding its online curriculum to include a certification that prepares students for work as end-of-life pet doulas.

As non-medical care providers, pet death doulas form companionships with pets, their families, veterinary professionals and those involved in informal care to guide them through the dying process.

"It is important to acknowledge the loss people experience when their pet dies and give them the space for emotional expression and validation," said Tracey Walker, the course instructor.

"The more we can work to normalize talking about pet loss, death overall, and the deeply personal journey of grieving, the better we will be equipped to support each other when we need it most."

The six-week, 100% online program is designed to provide participants with the skills needed to deliver practical, compassionate care for pets and their families as the animals approach the end of life.

While completing the program, students will gain expertise in advanced pet care planning, grief support and emotional guidance. They will also gain an understanding of how care, support and advocacy can enhance end-of-life companion animal care at home and within the veterinary medicine framework.

The course is open to individuals from all backgrounds, from veterinary professionals and death care workers to individuals planning to care for their pet companion.

The course is $550 and begins on April 1 and runs through May 12.

UNE is home to Maine's only medical and dental colleges, in addition to offering other health care degree programs. The university is currently relocating its College of Osteopathic Medicine from the UNE Biddeford campus to the one in Portland, where a comprehensive health sciences center is being built. The center is expected to open in 2025.

More than 4,000 UNE students attend classes at the campuses in Biddeford, Portland and Tangier, Morocco, and online. UNE was ranked No.6 among the largest Maine-based colleges and universities in the 2024 Mainebiz Book of Lists, ranked by full-time undergraduate enrollment in fall 2023.

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