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A group of dogs with their owners

Veterinary Social Work

Veterinary Social Work is a unique area within the field of social work that focuses on the relationship of people and animals.

At OPVMC we understand that pets are a part of your family. We are here to help you understand and manage stressful situations with your pet. OPVMC is proud to be the first veterinary hospital in the Western New York area to have a full time, dedicated and Licensed Master Social Worker (VSW) on staff as a benefit to our clients and staff.

Grey cat on a couch

Our VSW can assist pet owners through education and support if you experience stressors and strong emotions commonly associated with pet illness, injuries and making difficult decisions around quality of life and euthanasia.

In addition, the specialty of veterinary social work comprises four areas: Animal-Assisted Interventions, the link between human and animal violence, animal-related grief and bereavement, and compassion fatigue and conflict management.

Our VSW also provides support for our veterinarians and all members of the OPVMC team to remain committed to overall staff wellness.

Our Veterinary Social Worker, Katie Nokovich, can be reached by phone at 716-662-6660 ext. 276. VSW services can also be accessed by talking to your pet’s veterinarian or another member of the OPVMC team.

VSW Services offered at OPVMC

  • In Hospital Support while visiting your hospitalized pet
  • Short term Crisis Support
  • Education and support in making decisions on difficult topics including: Quality of Life, Euthanasia, Grief and Loss
  • Facilitating communication between the pet owner, veterinarian and treatment team
  • Outreach Calls
  • Community Referrals and Resources

Again, please note that all VSW services are free of charge to clients of OPVMC for any patient that has been examined by one of our veterinarians in the last 12 months.

Katie Nokovich, LMSW

Katie Nokovich, LMSW

Katie Nokovich is a Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW). She received her Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work at Daemen University and Master's Degree in Social Work at the University at Buffalo. Katie has experience working with patients that are terminally ill and their loved ones in the field of dying, grief, and loss including Hospice Care. Katie uses a trauma focused approach to help families navigate difficult conversations surrounding quality of life and end of life.

Katie wanted to become a Veterinary Social Worker to merge her biggest passions: animals and grief support. Katie’s goal is to normalize/validate grief among pet owners and help them develop healthy coping skills to navigate life without their pet. Katie enjoys spending time with her partner and their dog. She enjoys listening to true crime podcasts and traveling.