Veterinary Social Work

At Upstate Veterinary Specialties, we are not only dedicated to serving our animal patients but we are dedicated to serving our human clients as well. UVS is proud to offer the services of a veterinary social worker as part of your experience with our hospital. Our social workers will be there for you with compassionate, non-judgmental support, and can assist with helping you make treatment decisions, liaising between your medical team, coping with grief and loss, or just being an empathetic presence during challenging times.

Animal Companion Bereavement Group

When we lose our pets, we lose the love and companionship of a beloved family member. For many of us, this loss brings overwhelming feelings of sadness. Your grief is a reflection of the love that you had for your pet and is completely natural and normal. At Upstate Veterinary Specialties, we understand the devastation of saying goodbye to a pet, and we are here to support you in every way we can.

Our Animal Companion Bereavement Group is the Capital District’s first support group of its kind, created out of the necessity to grieve the deaths of our family with fur. We have been gathering for meetings since early 2012 in a supportive atmosphere with like-minded individuals who need to share the pain of losing our friends, service animals, and companions. Our Animal Companion Bereavement Group offers a supportive, judgment-free environment that supports the idea that these companions cannot be replaced, however, over time, healing and recovery from pain strengthens best when you are not alone.

The group is led by the Social Work team and meets on the second Tuesday of every month from 6:00 – 7:00 pm. Bereavement support is offered both in-person and virtually.

For more information or questions on our virtual bereavement group, please contact us at 518-783-3198. To participate in the virtual meeting please fill out this form. Once submitted you will be emailed a direct link to attend the meeting. Thank you for your understanding.

Additional Social Work Services Offered at UVS:

  • Guidance in treatment decision-making
  • Managing the demands of chronic illness
  • Addressing family conflict and crisis
  • Facilitating communication with the veterinary team
  • Emotional support during end-of-life transitions
  • Animal bereavement support group meetings
  • Help with adjusting to the loss of a beloved pet
  • Legacy building program
  • Information and referral to community resources


Meet our Veterinary Social Workers:

Deanne Busch, LCSW, VSW, Social Work Team Manager, provides support to the clients of Upstate Veterinary Specialties. Her background includes emergency medicine, hospice care, bereavement counseling, and child welfare – specializing in adoption. Deanne provides UVS clients with caring, compassionate, and non-judgmental support to guide them through making difficult decisions regarding medical care, quality of life, and end-of-life choices for their beloved pets.

Joslin Dupuis, LCSW, Veterinary Social Worker, provides supportive services to clients who experience pet loss and those caring for chronically, acutely, or terminally ill pets. Joslin received her Masters in Social Welfare from SUNY Albany in 2015. Her background includes pediatric and perinatal palliative care, emergency medicine, and crisis intervention. Joslin is also a local doula and certified lactation counselor. Joslin is available for clients throughout their pet’s health journey, offering full-service support and guidance. Joslin enjoys gardening, foraging for mushrooms, and caring for her chickens in her spare time.

Leina Minakawa, LCSW, Veterinary Social Worker – bio to come!