UPDATED 3.2.2022: We are open to provide care for your companions. For hospital operating status and COVID-19 Information please click HERE

Veterinary Social Worker

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 Clinical Social Worker (VSW) on staff as a benefit to our clients and staff.

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, Alyssa Pepe, can be reached by phone at 716-662-6660 ext. 135. 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.

Veterinary Social Work

Copyright: The University of Tennessee

Orchard Park Veterinary Medical Center’s Veterinary Social Worker
Alyssa Pepe, LCSW

Alyssa Pepe
Photo by Christina May

Alyssa Pepe is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. She received her Bachelor's Degree in Psychology and Sociology from Canisius College and Master's Degree in Social Work from the University at Buffalo. Alyssa has experience working in community mental health and substance abuse treatment with individuals, couples and in group settings. Her focus and passion is on mental health, specifically understanding the effects and impact of trauma on the body and mind and the importance of understanding self-compassion. She strongly believes in using a client-centered approach to personalize care for each person, family and their pet.

Alyssa was drawn to being a Veterinary Social Worker as a response to her love for animals and wanting to honor the bond between humans and animals. In her free time Alyssa spends her time with her partner and their two dogs, reading novels and volunteering at the SPCA in the Wildlife Department.

To learn more about Veterinary Social Work Please read the following article from the Washington Post: https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/wellness/need-to-make-tough-decisions-about-your-pet-a-veterinary-social-worker-can-help/2019/09/13/ce8090c8-d4c4-11e9-86ac-0f250cc91758_story.html