If there is one tiny bit of positiveness to come from the Gulf oil spill, it is that compassion for animals (both wildlife and domestic pets) seems to be on the rise. I was touched by the mission of the Sumralls, below. Every time someone creates an environment like theirs to support and sustain the bereaved animal lover, humanity’s collective soul improves just a little bit.—Sid

Pet funeral home opens on Mississippi Gulf Coast

NICOLE DOW, The Sun Herald
Published: 04:00 a.m., Monday, August 2, 2010

GULFPORT, Miss. (AP) — Linda and Glynn Sumrall care about pets. So much that they opened A Pet’s Memory, a pet funeral home and crematory in Gulfport, so owners would have such a facility after the loss of a pet.

“They can sit down and talk to someone where their loss isn’t trivialized,” Linda Sumrall said.

The Sumralls came up with the idea for the business after thinking about what they would do if they lost any of their pets. The family has three golden retrievers — 11-year-old Cindy, 5-year-old Maggie and Molly, who is 2-1/2.

“When we were planning, I thought of how we would want to be treated,” she said.

Linda’s husband, Glynn, said they treat each animal that comes in as if it was their own.

“We meet people on a really bad day and try to make it better,” he said.

The Sumralls started the pet crematory business at the end of June. Before that, Linda had a pet pooper scooper service.

“That shows how much I’m into pets,” she said.

Glynn still works with the U.S. Postal Service.

In 2008, the Sumralls started the Pet Oxygen Recovery Mask Program to supply fire stations throughout Hancock, Harrison, Jackson and Stone counties with reusable oxygen masks to aid pets after a fire.

Linda Sumrall said she started the program after watching the news and hearing a story about a house fire in Gulfport. The family and their dog was rescued, but the pet had taken in too much smoke into its lungs and died, she said.

That’s when she made some calls and discovered that local fire trucks weren’t equipped with oxygen masks to fit pets.

“I thought for sure that the cities would have them,” Sumrall said.

The family decided to raise money to supply the pet oxygen masks to the fire stations across the Coast by hosting car washes and collecting donations from individuals and businesses.

“We’ve donated 66 sets,” Sumrall said. She said they have 32 more to go to supply all 98 stations with a set.

The family is now accepting donations at their pet funeral home. After they finish raising money for the oxygen masks, Sumrall said future funds raised will be donated to the Humane Society.

Sumrall said it was no easy task going from the idea of their business venture to opening the facility.

“It’s taken 2-1/2 years to get this business open,” she said.

Picking the right location was a challenge. They had to have the right permits and certifications and be located in an area suitable to the city and surrounding businesses. A Pet’s Memory is now located on 28th Street in Gulfport. Sumrall said she wanted to have a facility that was dignified and respectable.

The crematory is located onsite where pet owners can arrange a private viewing. The equipment used is similar to what a local funeral home uses, Sumrall said.

Cremation costs are based upon the weight of the animal. Sumrall said the cost of a private cremation starts around $80 and can range to about $210 for heavier pets. A Pet’s Memory has cremated cats and dogs as well as more unusual pets such as a bearded dragon lizard, a guinea pig and a ferret.

The first pet the family cremated was formerly one of their own. Sam, a golden retriever from their dog Maggie’s litter, was killed by a car when he was 2 1/2 years old. His remains are in an urn at the pet funeral home.

A Pet’s Memory Pet Funeral Home and Crematory also sells caskets for families who prefer to bury their pets at home instead of cremating them.

At the funeral home, the Sumralls have set up a “last moment room” where families can say their final goodbyes to their pets.

“A lot of tears are shed,” Sumrall said. “Men have cried, too.”

Sumrall has been certified as a pet bereavement counselor by the Association for Pet Loss and Bereavement. She said she has taken the equivalent of 10 college courses. She also lends her time as an online pet loss counselor for the organization.

“Grief is real, and grief hurts,” she said.

Sumrall said the service her business provides is something that was needed on the Mississippi Coast.

“I’m honored to do this,” she said.

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Information from: The Sun Herald, http://www.sunherald.com

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