Farewell Services For Pets Give Owners Comfort

For animal lovers, the loss of a pet can be as upsetting as that of a human family member. And like a human’s passing, it often costs thousands of dollars with medical costs and end-of-life services. KENS 5 did a little digging in to the industry.

“It’s tough to lose your pet. It really is,” said Luci Pittman from KENS 5.

“They were great dogs — both of them — and the whole family was close to them,” Pittman said.

The Pittman’s dogs were family to them, so they chose to bury their dogs at Mission Burial Park South, the only pet cemetery in San Antonio.

“Others have said that it’s really weird that I had a service for the dog and also that I buried him in a pet cemetery,” Pittman said.

Kristin Tips, president of Mission Park Funeral Chapel and Cemeteries, puts a price on services similar to the ones the Pittman’s gave their pets.

“Burial plots start at $250 and go up, and the headstones start at about $150 and they go up depending on the size,” she said.

Tips says they currently have roughly 35 clients per year, and that the call for burials at Mission is on the rise.

There are a variety of stones headlining the graves of pets in the cemetery, from the most plain and simple designs to more personalized and detailed stones. It is also not uncommon for pet owners to request the cemetery staff to perform an entire funeral service for their pets.

“We’ve had one (pet funeral service) recently and there were about 55 visitors that came out, and we’ve had one that had 150 visitors,” Tips said.

The Tips family has also experienced the loss of a dear pet. Their dog Luke served as a concierge staff member at a hotel. Hundreds of people, including the mayor, attended Luke’s service to pay their respects.

Some pet owners, however, opt to have their pets cremated because of the cost of burials and funerals. Cremation is a popular end-of-life route for many people. Owners can have a member of a crematory staff pick up or drop off the remains of their pets, and they even have the option to keep their pet’s ashes.

If an owner wants to keep the ashes, however, arrangements must be made for the pet to be cremated alone.

Bluebonnet Pet Crematory has four ovens in order to meet the needs of the speedy increase in business. The crematory handles just about any kind of pet a person could own, and they get hundreds of animals each week.

“We cremate, I’d say, at least 200 to 300 a week. People can have their pets’ ashes put in jewelry or an urn,” said Judy McKee, from Bluebonnet.

“Most of these (urns) range from about $50 on up and you can go up $200, $300, $400 depending on what you want,” she said.

No matter which route you choose, it is never easy to say goodbye to your beloved companions, and pet cemeteries and crematories are compassionate and understanding.

“It’s something that people need, and you want pets, too, to have a dignified ending,” McKee said.

Some states even allow owners to bury their pets on their personal property. However, it is not legal in most states to bury a pet at parks or cemeteries for humans.

Many vets, pet cemeteries and crematories offer grief counseling for bereaved owners. The ASPCA has the Pet Loss Hotline for support, as well. The number is (877) GRIEF-10.

[Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images]