Sarah Bernardi began her career in veterinary social work as just one of two in the field in all of Canada. When you let that sink in, the ideas this trailblazer talks about seem to resonate that much more.

In this episode of Hitting Your Stride, Tracey Mitchell gets the down-low from Sarah on what it’s like to work as a vet social worker, how there can be big issues with boundaries and how for a long time veterinary medicine was almost singularly focused on the animals and not the human component.


A woman with long dark hair standing in front of a bank of purple flowers.

Sarah Bernardi has helped people through some of the darkest days of their lives.


Veterinary social work addresses the complex feelings of uncertainty and grief that the loss – or anticipated loss – of a beloved pet or horse can bring. The support Sarah offers ranges from advocating for the client as they navigate difficult decisions regarding their animal’s health, providing emotional and decision-making support during emergency medical treatment, having quality-of-life conversations and those tough euthanasia discussions, and offering grief counselling.

There are challenges to work through, but Sarah talks about learning the different dynamics at play and how important it is to preserve the human-animal bond. They share a laugh when Sarah remembers what her expectations were like at the beginning of her path, and then she expresses her excitement for the future ahead for her field.

Sarah Bernardi can be reached via the Ontario Veterinary College’s Pet Trust website ⁠here⁠.

Listen to the episode here: