Understanding the meaning of companion animals and their loss in peoples' lives has major implications for the way professional services are organized and delivered. There is much research and literature which argues for the major social, emotional and physical benefits of animal companionship, and the widespread nature of pet ownership. Yet ironically, much of the professional service literature has tended to marginalize or pathologize the human-animal bond, often dichotomizing it against human relationships and assuming its inferiority. We argue that this reflects a tendency to individualise what should be a major social concern. Therefore service design and delivery needs to reflect a recognition of human-animal relationships as a significant part of normal experience. Services and policies need to factor in both the inclusion and loss of these.