Pet funerals becoming common option

WEST SENECA, N.Y. (WIVB) –In some cases, Man’s Best Friend is getting the ‘best friend treatment’ even at the time of death.

Edward Jordan has seen his pet burial business boom, especially in the past thirty years. His Pine Rest Pet Cemetery in West Seneca is now the final resting place for 20,000 pets….everything from a skunk to a gorilla. They are pets whose owners thought of them more as family.

“The pets are so much closer to the owners than they used to be. They’ve moved into the house, they’ve moved into the bedroom, they’ve been such a companion to many people.” said Jordan. “All kinds of different stories like the one fella, he admitted “I’m a drunk, and my dog saved me. They had a malfunction with a gas line, the house was getting full of fumes, and the dog kept biting him in his ankle pulling him out. When he brought the dog out he says ‘I won’t touch a drop of liquor until the dog is buried and paid for.”

Pine Rest is not just for pets. Human ashes are buried there too. Jordan recalls a woman who wanted to be buried  with her favorite horse.”The horse died first, and she wanted to be buried with the horse…So, she’s riding that horse for eternity, and right next door is her husband with his favorite cat.”

Just south of Pine Rest is Pet Heaven in Orchard Park , where a couple times almost every day, a pet funeral is held.

Owner, Joe Wales brushes the deceased pet and puts it in a sleeping position for viewing. “They usually bring family, friends, close people. We have on occasion had clergy in here.”

Grieving pet owners have the option of watching through a window as the animal is placed in the oven for cremation, but most don’t choose that option, according to Office Manager Krystin Hoppel. “It may sound really weird and really gross but it’s really not. It’s a way for people to keep their pet with them forever, because people are so close to their pets nowadays and they’re not pets, they’re more family members with fur.”

Pet Heaven, and Pine Rest also both offer grief counseling.

“They’re embarrassed that they’re grieving so much over their bird, and we’re there to comfort them and they know, “okay I’m not wacky” said Wales. “They’ll say I feel so guilty because I’m taking this harder than when my mother died last year. That’s totally normal, but most people don’t vocalize that.”

Pet Heaven is also linked with veterinarians who offer Home Euthansia if you would prefer to have a vet come into your home to put your pet to sleep.

These two businesses are where  many veterinarians send pets to be cremated, but if your pet dies at home, the pet owner can bring it directly to Pet Heaven or Pine Rest, and get the ashes to take home for what often times is a bill of about a hundred dollars.

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