Animal Hospice Group Founder
Dr. Kathryn D. Marocchino is a Professor in the Department of Culture and Communication at California State University Maritime as well as a thanatologist, translator, public speaker, and author of several books and articles. She is also the president and founder of The Nikki Hospice Foundation for Pets (The NHFP), the nation’s first non-profit devoted to providing home hospice care for terminally ill companion animals. She holds a doctorate from the University of Turin (Italy), where she held a lectureship for several years before coming to the United States, and has taught at both the University of California at Davis and at Stanford University.
In 1999, she pioneered CSU Maritime's first service-learning course (“Dying: The Final Stage of Living”), in conjunction with Kaiser Vallejo's Hospice Department and for seven years, directed the campus's Community Service Learning Center, which she founded in 2001. She has served as chair of the Pet Loss Special Interest Group at ADEC (Association for Death Education and Counseling) and was a founding board member of the IAAHPC (International Association for Animal Hospice and Palliative Care). For the past twelve years, she and her husband Gianfranco have also been caring for a colony of cats on their premises, several of whom are special needs, seniors, or in hospice care.
Dr. Marocchino also provides grief support to animal caregivers on a nationwide basis through The NHFP’s telephone counseling service, has helped train pet loss support group facilitators for the Humane Society of the North Bay, and has organized Vallejo's annual Pet Remembrance Candle Lighting ceremony since 2006. Since 2011, she has also been coordinating her campus's community cat program.
Dr. Marocchino has been a guest on both radio and television shows and has consistently promoted the concept of animal hospice care through workshops or presentations at countless professional conferences, with audiences ranging from veterinarians and veterinary technicians to mental health/hospice personnel and death educators. Her articles on the subject were among the first of their kind to be published in both professional journals and in lay publications. In 2008, 2009 and 2012, she co-organized the First, Second and Third International Symposia on Veterinary Hospice Care at the University of California at Davis.
Certifications, Education, Associations & Honors
- Fellow in Thanatology (FT), Association for Death Education and Counseling, 2005.
- Certificate in Critical Incident Stress Management, International CISM Foundation, 2003.
- Certificate of Completion for the Professional Program in the Study of Loss and Grief, UC Berkeley Extension, 1999-2001.
- Hospice Volunteer Training, Kaiser Permanente Hospice Program, 1995.
- Doctorate, University of Turin (Italy), 1979
- Association for Death Education and Counseling (ADEC), National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO), International Association for Animal Hospice and Palliative Care (IAAHPC), Association of University Professors (AAUP)
- Co-Founder, GRACE Animal Hospice Consortium, 2018
- “Act of Kindness and Philanthropy Hero Award,” American Red Cross and Solano County, 2008
- President’s Lifetime Volunteer Call to Service Award (shared with husband Gianfranco), 2005
- GO SERV Spotlight Recipient, Governor’s Office on Service and Volunteerism, 2003
- In the Shadow of a Rainbow: The History of Animal Hospice, in Veterinary Clinics of North America: Small Animal Practice (scholarly journal), edited by Tamara Shearer, Philadelphia: Elsevier Saunders, May 2011, Volume 41, Number 3 (special single-topic issue on veterinary hospice care).
- Veterinary Hospice Care: Its History and Development, in The Latham Letter, Volume XXIX, Number 4, Fall 2008 (special single-topic issue on veterinary hospice care).
- Information on Hospice Care for Pets, in The Pet Yellow Pages, 2005-2006.
- The Nikki Hospice Foundation for Pets: A Humane Option for Companion Animals, in Four Paws Press, A Publication of the Benicia Vallejo Humane Society, September 1999, Volume 2, Issue 3.
- Bringing Hospice Home, in Veterinary Economics, February 1998.
- The Nikki Hospice Foundation for Pets: Making Animal Hospice Care a Reality, in The Pet Companion, November 1997.
- Conducting Pet Loss Support Groups: A Guidebook for Trained Peer Facilitators, Book used in training workshops for Facilitators of Pet Loss Support Groups, offered jointly by The Nikki Hospice Foundation for Pets and Kaiser Hospice Vallejo, held at CMA, March 2007
- Pet Loss Journal: Coping with the Loss of Your Beloved Pet (co-authored with Jeanette Salinas), Book used in compassion fatigue workshop, offered jointly by The Nikki Hospice Foundation for Pets and Kaiser Hospice Vallejo, held at the Peninsula Humane Society, San Mateo (CA), August 2007
Conference Presentations, Workshops & Courses
- “Animal Hospice: The Gentle Good-bye,” Course (4 hours) taught at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI), UC Davis Extension, Davis (CA), March 17 and March 24, 2017 [attended by human hospice professionals, veterinarians, and members of the public at large].
- “Finding Our Spirit Again,” Welcome presented at the Third International Symposium on Veterinary Hospice Care, co-sponsored by The Nikki Hospice Foundation for Pets and the California Holistic Veterinary Medical Association, the University of California at Davis, Davis (CA), July 20-22, 2012.
- “Animal Hospice: On the Rise and Growing!,” Presentation given at the 12th Clinical Team Conference and Pediatric Intensive (The Hospice IDT: Leading and Innovating Quality Throughout the Care Continuum), sponsored by the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization, San Diego (CA), October 4-8, 2011 [co-presented with Sharen Meyers, LCSW at Partners in Care Hospice in Bend (OR)].
- “Veterinary Hospice Care,” Presentation given at the Pet Loss Business Development Conference: Opportunity Unleashed, sponsored by Matthews Cremation and the National Funeral Directors Association and part of a nation-wide tour covering San Mateo (CA), Tempe (AZ), Austin (TX), Orlando (FL), Columbus (OH), and Waltham (MA), July-August, 2008.
- “Remembering Our Spirit,” Keynote Address presented at the First International Symposium on Veterinary Hospice Care, co-sponsored by The Nikki Hospice Foundation for Pets and the Assisi International Animal Institute and hosted by the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, Davis (CA), March 28-30, 2008.
- “‘Waiting at the Rainbow Bridge’: Training Mental Health, Hospice and Animal Care Professionals in Pet Loss Support,” Practice Report presented at the 29th Annual ADEC Conference: Transformation and Creativity in Dying, Death, and Bereavement, April 12-15, 2007, Indianapolis (IN).
- “The Nikki Hospice Foundation for Pets: Training Professionals to Provide Pet Loss Support During and After Veterinary Hospice Care,” Workshop presented at the 2005 World Gathering on Bereavement, August 18-21, 2005, Vancouver (CANADA).
- “The Nikki Hospice Foundation for Pets: Training Professionals to Provide Pet Loss Support During and After Veterinary Hospice Care,” Experiential Workshop presented at the 27th Annual ADEC Conference: Rituals: Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something True, March 30-April 3, 2005, Albuquerque (NM).
- “The Nikki Hospice Foundation for Pets: Serving a Disenfranchised Need,” Practical Report presented at the 24th Annual ADEC (Association for Death Education and Counseling) Conference: The Changing Face of Death, Dying and Bereavement in the 21st Century, April 10-14, 2002, Portland (OR).
- “Animals in Hospitals and Hospice Programs” (panel discussion), First Summit on The Healing Power of the Human-Animal Bond: Lessons Learned from the AIDS Epidemic, presented by Pets Are Wonderful Support (PAWS), October 20-21, 2000, San Francisco (CA).
- “Hospice Care for Animals: A Humane Alternative to Euthanasia,” Positive Outcomes for People and Animals Conference, presented by The California Council of Companion Animal Advocates (CCCAA) and The Pet Loss Support Hotline Program of the School of Veterinary Medicine of the University of California at Davis, June 4-6, 1999, UC Davis (CA).
- “The Nikki Hospice Foundation for Pets: Its Mission and Goals,” Wild West Veterinary Conference, October 18-22, 2000, Reno (NV), published in the conference Veterinary Syllabus and in the PAWS Conference Proceedings of the First Summit on the Healing Power of the Human-Animal Bond: Lessons Learned from the AIDS Epidemic.
- “Honoring Life by Respecting Death: The Work of The Nikki Hospice Foundation for Pets,” 50th Anniversary Celebration of the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, including the 11th Annual Symposium on Advances in Clinical Veterinary Medicine, August 20-22, 1998, UC Davis (CA), published in the conference Proceedings.
Public Speaking/Presentations to Professional Groups
- Presentation on The Nikki Hospice Foundation for Pets and how animal hospice and human hospice can work together for their mutual benefit (with NHFP Advisory Board Members Dr. Ella Bittel and LCSW Sharen Meyers); Dr. Donald Schumacher, CEO, and board members of The National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO); April 23, 2010; Washington, DC.
- Presentation on The Nikki Hospice Foundation for Pets and the concept of animal hospice; Second Annual Bay Area Pet Fair and Adoptathon; September 8, 2007; The Marin Center, San Rafael (CA).
- Presentation on Creating a Veterinary Hospice Program in Your Clinic, Hospital or Practice; Animal Care Center; April 29, 2005; Rohnert Park (CA).
- Presentation on Exploring the Option of Veterinary Hospice Care for Your Clinic or Practice, Napa Solano Veterinary Medical Association; November 18, 2004; Cordelia (CA).
- Presentation on The Nikki Hospice Foundation for Pets and the concept of animal hospice; Vallejo Dog Training Club; June 25, 2001; Vallejo (CA).
- Presentation on The Nikki Hospice Foundation for Pets and the concept of animal hospice; Hospice Volunteer Meeting; April 21-22, 1999; Kaiser Permanente Hospice Program; Vallejo (CA).
- Presentation on The Nikki Hospice Foundation for Pets and the concept of animal hospice; The Mount Diablo Doberman Pinscher Club; August 29, 1998; Pleasant Hill (CA).
"Animal hospice means seeing through the veil and viewing death not as an adversary to be feared but as a doorway to other states of being."
~ Kathryn Marocchino, AHG Founder