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Kathy Reiter holds a puppy from the Animal Welfare League of Alexandria on Potomac Riverboat Company's "Canine Cruise."

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AWLA: A Shoulder To Cry On for Thousands Who’ve Lost Pets

It all started about 35 years ago with a newspaper ad from a British doctor seeking a volunteer driver for a new concept in America — something called a “hospice.” Then-Arlington resident Kathy Reiter didn’t know the term but wound up taking the job — and eventually facilitating support groups for grieving widows and widowers. But the project took an unexpected turn. “People started coming up to me after the group meetings and confessing that they actually were there because their companion animal had died and they didn’t know how to cope,” Reiter recalled. “I realized that someone needed to start a support group especially for loss of pets.”

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