An animal ministry career is unique and fulfilling! Learn what a pet loss chaplain does in this job description. If you’re thinking about a career that involves pets – dog training, animal rescue, or veterinary jobs – you can’t miss this career profile.
“I offer in-person or online grief support, and post stories and pictures of pets who have passed away on my blog’s memorial page,” says pet loss or animal chaplain Sid Korpi. “Much of what I offer I do so free of charge.”
Korpi works with people to help them prepare for, cope with, and move on after pet loss. She says her work is more of an “avocation” than a “pet job” or ” animal career.”
Here’s how she describes working with people who loved and have lost animals…
Animal Ministry Career – What Does a Pet Loss Chaplain Do?
Since she often works for free, Korpi requests free-will offerings for services such as accompanying people and their pets to euthanasia appointments, doing group animal blessings, conducting pet loss support groups, speaking to groups about pet loss, and writing and delivering pet funeral or memorial services.
There is currently no standardized definition of animal chaplaincy. Some people bring different things to the table, such as animal communication and energy healing. Only a few websites claim to offer training these types of pet related careers.
Korpi researched and wrote Good Grief: Finding Peace After Pet Loss — and in doing so learned more on her own than most organizations offer as training for this type of career. For instance, one website requires $300 for their “curriculum”, which requires people to read four books and write reports. Then, the website sends a piece of paper saying you completed their animal training course. Be careful of “training programs” like that!
Korpi adds that anyone who does grief counseling or other professional ministerial work can easily segue into animal chaplaincy.
The Best Parts of This Animal Career
“I truly enjoy hearing the heartfelt response of people who say what I’ve done or written has helped them navigate the darkest days of their lives,” Korpi says. “I want to help them view pet loss and death as a transition, not to be feared. It is an honor and privilege to be with their companion animals in this most poignant of life passages.”
Pet euthanasia can be a peaceful end to a pet’s suffering. It can help the owner take a first step toward healing his or her heart.
“I also enjoy hearing that I helped someone who was stuck in grief, who was too afraid to love again, to adopt another animal,” says Korpi.
The Downside of a Career in Animal Ministry
“Oddly enough, the very thing I love about this job, supporting someone through his/her pet’s passing, is also what I dislike the most,” says Korpi. “I cry my eyes out right along with the owner. In one case, I told the vet, referring to the pet owner who was a friend of mine, that I was there to ‘do his crying’ because he stuffs his emotions.”
Korpi says that the day she stops crying over other people’s pet loss is the day she should get out of the business. “I may not have known the animal or even the person for very long, but compassion spurts out of me unbidden sometimes,” she says. “I often cry because the moment is profoundly beautiful, even more than because it is sad. Either way, it is quite emotionally draining even as it is spiritually uplifting and life-after-death affirming”
She also struggles with the fact that there isn’t a set wage or salary in this pet job. “Working as an animal chaplain is unbelievably enriching in intangible ways, and I have to assume I’m amassing quite a number of karma points,” she says. “But at this point, I know of no one who can support him or herself doing animal chaplaincy alone.”
One of the veterinarians I interviewed had a similar perspective on holistic animal care. To learn about working in holistic animal care, read his Veterinarian Job Description.
The Biggest Surprise About Helping People Cope With Pet Loss
“Anyone who knows me knows I am such a renowned ‘wuss’ because I can’t even watch a movie with an animal that’s in jeopardy without sobbing for weeks,” says Korpi. “And here I am volunteering to help euthanize animals! Writing my grief book was necessary, as I lost my mother, stepfather, uncle, three dogs, two cats, cockatiel and my 15-year marriage over just a few years’ time.”
Korpi’s experience with grief triggered a strength she never knew she had. It’s been an “amazing transition” for her.
Career Tips for Animal Lovers
“Work with pets because your heart and soul compels you to, not because you’re hoping to get rich,” she says. “If you’re interested in animal chaplaincy, you must love animals above almost everything else. You must be seeking to live your life on a slightly higher plane of existence. That means the earthly rewards may be few, but the spiritual ones abound.”
A similar job is working as a funeral director, planning memorial services for people who have lost loved ones.
Sid Korpi, author of Good Grief: Finding Peace After Pet Loss: Personal and Professional Insights on the Animal Lover’s Unique Grieving Process, lives in Minneapolis, Minn., with her hubby and their menagerie consisting of eight rescued animal companions: four Westies (Blanche, Keely, Ambrose and Oliver), two cats (Giles and Xander) and two finches (Atticus and Scout). To learn more, visit Good Grief Pet Loss.
If you’re coping with pet loss, you might find Letting Go of an Animal You Love helpful.
Do you have any questions or thoughts on this animal chaplain job description, or working with animals? Please comment below…