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Chance’s Spot, Pet Loss and Support Resources would like to invite all pet caregivers and friends of animals to submit their pet’s name to this year’s Honoring the Animals Memorial Program Book. This program book is mailed to pet parents all over the world who wish to honor their pet’s memory on National Pet Memorial Day. Please visit honoringtheanimals.org/addpet.html to submit your pet’s name today!

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Coleen Ellis is a mover and a shaker. She has almost single-handedly made it possible for many people to access a pet-specific funeral home when they seek to memorialize a beloved animal’s passing. More and more, companion animals’ status in our lives is rising, as the value of their relationship with humans is lent credence by more professional associations. Read about the exciting new trends in pet funerals and even legal arenas.—Sid

Pet funeral industry undergoing major changes

Today, there are over 750 pet funeral homes, pet crematories and pet cemeteries across the country — and a lot of human funeral homes have or are looking at ways to offer services when pets die. By: Associated Press, INFORUM

Mike the Dog's Tribute Table

This 2010 photo courtesy of Coleen A. Ellis for Two Hearts Pet Loss Center shows the Tribute Table for Mike The Dog in Ellis’ home in Greenwood, Ind. Mike died in July 2010 and Ellis kept the Tribute Table up for about a month as her family honored him and all of the things that were important to him in his life. (AP Photo/Two Hearts Pet Loss Center, Coleen A. Ellis)

LOS ANGELES — Her 14-year-old dog Mico had lung cancer and Coleen A. Ellis knew she was taking her to the vet for the last time. She watched as the vet started to put the terrier schnauzer’s body in a garbage bag. “I couldn’t just walk out of there with a leash and a collar,” she said. Ellis took Mico’s body home instead. A local funeral home agreed to cremate Mico. But as she waited in the chapel, Ellis said she was told they couldn’t turn on the lights because they were having a service for “a real death” down the hall. She vowed to make changes.

A year later, in 2004, Ellis opened what is believed to be the country’s first stand-alone pet funeral home in Indianapolis. Today, there are over 750 pet funeral homes, pet crematories and pet cemeteries across the country — and a lot of human funeral homes have or are looking at ways to offer services when pets die. Ellis sold her mortuary and now runs Two Hearts Pet Loss Center, which arranges memorial services and helps people grieve the loss of a pet. In 2009, she helped start the Pet Loss Professionals Alliance as a committee of the International Cemetery, Cremation and Funeral Association.

As the industry grew, so did the alliance. It’s holding its second annual conference this week in Las Vegas. The group’s goals are simple — set and maintain standards for services related to pet deaths, such as funerals, memorials, cremations and burials. Poul H. Lemasters, an attorney and president of Lemasters Consulting in Cincinnati, has worked in the funeral industry for over 15 years and is licensed as a funeral director and embalmer in Ohio and West Virginia. When he talked about pet cremation liabilities at PLPA’s inaugural meeting in San Antonio, he drew an audience of 200. More than twice that number has signed up to attend his session at this week’s PLPA conference.

Consumers need more than a handshake from pet morticians, he explained. They need transparency, including a standard cremation authorization form spelling out services, methods, choices and cost. The PLPA will vote on a proposed form during their convention.

“On the human side, the biggest issue out there is always wrongful cremation. On the pet side, it’s not wrongful cremations, but whether cremations are being done at all,” Lemasters said. There have been animal dumping cases in Arizona, Virginia and Tennessee, where pets were stored instead of cremated, then taken to a landfill or dump and dropped off, he said. He said Illinois is the frontrunner on laws governing disposition of deceased pets and pet funerals. Ninety percent of pet owners choose cremation rather than burial for their pets, he said.

But while cremation has been offered for a long time, many other types of legal issues related to the deaths of pets — and even the deaths of owners who are survived by their pets — are now getting more attention. Pets are named in wills, they receive trusts, they are part of prenuptial agreements.

In a few states, laws are being rewritten to treat pets as more than personal property, Lemasters said. California has a new law that says if your animal is killed maliciously, you can claim certain types of damages, Lemasters said. In Florida, a dog died while under a veterinarian’s care and was cremated before an autopsy could be conducted. The family was awarded more than $10,000 in punitive damages. Nevada enacted a law allowing pet-owners emotional damages from the death of a pet in certain circumstances up to $5,000. But pet owners can also sue for vet bills and funeral costs, Lemasters said. “The fact they are starting to recognize funeral costs for a pet, that’s pretty unbelievable.”

Memorial services are sometimes held for working dogs, too, whose deaths may affect not just the animal’s owner or handler, but an entire agency, business or community. When a police dog named Bo was killed in May 2007, Ellis was asked to help arrange a memorial service. Bo had been with the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department for about four years when a burglar “turned around with a gun and shot Bo a couple of times. Bo went back to his handler and died in his arms,” Lt. Benny Diggs said. Bo’s service was attended by about 150 people from the police department and the community. “I really believe it helps,” Diggs said. “When you are a policeman, especially a K-9 handler, that dog becomes your partner.”

The 30-minute service was respectful, but didn’t go overboard, he added. “We keep it in perspective. We are losing soldiers daily in Afghanistan and Iraq and police officers are dying throughout the United States every week. We never want to take away from their service or what they are doing for the community,” he said.

As pets play bigger roles in people’s lives, it makes sense they will be treated more like family when they die, and that includes holding the types of funeral services that at one time were held only for people, said veterinarian Jane Shaw, who spoke at PLPA’s meeting last year. Shaw is director of the Argus Institute in the College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colo. “Telling stories, playing music and reading poetry are all things that allow us to express what this individual meant to us,” she said, “whether it’s human or animal.”

Unbidden by anything seen, just standing in her kitchen one night, my sister had a sudden “knowing” that her beloved schnauzer mix, Chester, whom she had let outside for his nightly potty break, had died. Compelled by this same awareness, she tearfully carried his food and water bowls to her garbage can and threw them away before she crumpled to the floor and wept. Within the hour, she would discover upon searching the neighborhood that her sweet dog had been hit by a car two blocks away. This incident in my memory (and recounted in my book Good Grief: Finding Peace After Pet Loss) drew me to this article by the ever-compassionate, insightful Colleen Mihelich.—Sid

After the Memorial – What to Do With Your Pet’s Belongings

January 21st, 2011 | Author: admin

So, you’ve just struggled through the first painful months of having lost your beloved pet and adjusting to life without their friendship and presence. But now what do you do with the collar, the leash, the food and water bowls and the toys?

Some people have no problem throwing these things away or giving them to someone who needs them. This doesn’t mean that these pet owners aren’t grieving; they have simply determined this is the best course of action for them. Still others opt to keep their pet’s belongings as keepsakes, particularly if the pet was a part of their life for an extended period of time.

There is no right or wrong answer to the question of what to do with your pet’s belongings. This is a personal choice that is more about your comfort level and where you are in the grieving process than anything else. Pet loss is a life-changing event and people who have expended their time and love on their pet for long periods of time often have difficulty in letting go and reconciling their loss. This is where the issue of what do with the pet’s belongings becomes a loaded question.

One way of dealing with your pet loss is to give away some of your pet’s belongings to a local shelter or Humane Society, but in your own time. This can give you some peace of mind in knowing there are other animal’s out there benefiting from the items that once belonged to your pet. You can keep a few precious keepsakes, such as a special collar or favorite toys and display them or keep them in a special box.

A keepsake box can make a great pet memorial. Be creative and put a few items in a pet keepsake box and display it in a common area of your home. Keepsake boxes come in a variety of sizes and colors and are perfect for smaller mementos, such as collars or name tags and photos. You can also display these items in a shadow box that you can actually display on the wall of your home. You can also choose to display a shadow box in a common area, or if you want it to be a more personal expression of your love for your pet, in a bedroom area.

If you decide to donate your items to a pet-oriented charity or shelter, you might also be able to do in your pet’s memory, particularly if you also make a financial donation of sorts. Ask your local shelter or Humane Society about this option as this is a fantastic way to memorialize your pet and pay tribute to their life and the happiness which they brought to yours.

Remember, the decision on what to do with your pet belongings is in direct correlation to where you are in the grieving process. Only make decisions that you are ready to make and ensure that anything you decide to do with your pet’s belongings is something you are comfortable with and honors the life of your pet in some way.

Colleen Mihelich
Owner, Peternity…honoring your pet for eternity
http://www.peternity.com
colleen@peternity.com
877-PET-PEACE

Author: Colleen Mihelich
Article Source: EzineArticles.com

As an animal chaplain who works with people to help them prepare for, cope with and move on after pet loss, I think this pet cemetery is a wonderful idea, especially for those who prefer to bury rather than cremate their pets. It is largely illegal in the city to bury animals, and then there’s always the concern that if you do it anyway you may someday move to another home and have to leave behind your departed animals’ graves. I just helped a woman through the euthanasia of her beloved cockatoo, Cuddles, yesterday. She lives in a condo and is Jewish—her faith disallows cremation—so she had to bury her bird in her mother’s garden. She may still someday have to face her mother moving from that house and leaving Cuddles behind. Having access to a permanent, preserved burial space might have brought her an additional measure of comfort.

In my research and writing of my book, “Good Grief: Finding Peace After Pet Loss,” people all over the globe submitted stories of how bonded they were with their animals and how important memorializing them is to their own heart’s healing. I agree fully with Ms. Ayl, in the following article, when she writes, “Places like this and memorializing your pet are very important. Humans need symbolism. It’s very powerful. It’s very healing.”—Sid

Where Pets Rest in Peace

The Los Angeles Pet Memorial Park in Calabasas offers a final resting place for beloved animals as well as comfort for their grieving owners.

By Reza Gostar | Email the author | August 11, 2010

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Flory DeVoe buried her dog Bijou at the Los Angeles Pet Memorial Park in Calabasas. Credit Flory DeVoe

About 40,000 pets are buried at the Los Angeles Pet Memorial Park in Calabasas, and each tombstone and grave tells its own uniquely bittersweet story.

Although not the largest pet cemetery, the park is the second oldest in the country. A far cry from Stephen King’s “Pet Cemetery,” the Calabasas memorial park has a tranquil atmosphere where many animal lovers have found comfort.

Kathleen Ayl, pet loss support specialist, says people need emotional healing when a beloved animal dies.

“The amount of grief someone goes through is in direct proportion to the amount of connection they shared,” said Ayl.

According to Ayl, places like the memorial park and the burial or cremation ceremony help people find closure and aid them in the recovery process.

“People need to be aware that there are beautiful places that handle your animal in a loving and spiritual way and in a very respectful way,” said Ayl. “Places like this and memorializing your pet are very important. Humans need symbolism. It’s very powerful. It’s very healing.”

At the center of the park grounds a statue of Saint Francis of Assisi, patron saint of the animals, stands with his arms outstretched. Names such as Mittens, Spanky, Corky and Chipper are etched into the flower-adorned headstones surrounding it.

A statue of Saint Francis of Assisi, patron saint of the animals, is one of the statues scattered throughout the park. Credit Reza Gostar

The park’s prices vary depending on the size of the animal and the amenities requested, employee Donna J. Robinson explained. The cost for a cremation depends on the pet’s weight and runs from $90 for a small cat to $310 for a large dog. For a headstone, casket, plot and service the total can range from $550 to $1,250. For larger pets such as horses the price can go up as high as $4,750.

People come to the Calabasas park for different reasons. Raphael Briliant was visiting with her rescued boxer Marcelle, who she explained is still a little aggressive as a result of his past abuse. Briliant, who had her cat Esmeralda cremated at the park, finds the grounds’ peacefulness redeeming and a start contrast to the brutality and neglect that she often witnesses in her rescue work.

“I remember walking through the park and reading some of these things . . . When you work in rescue and you see some people give up on their pets,” she said as tears formed. “Then you read some of the testimonies here and you realize that there are good people out there.”

Clarence and Flory DeVoe came to the Calabasas park because they didn’t want to bury their dog Bijou in the backyard. They wanted a more dignified and traditional service.

“The animal is a big part of the family,” said Clarence DeVoe of his pet. “My wife still talks about Bijou . . . I took my grandson down there a few weeks ago.”

The park can be a setting for young ones to learn about life and death and respect, Clarence DeVoe said.

Many people come to the park asking about a great-grandmother’s or great-grandfather’s pet. Some of the records date to 1928, the park’s inception, said Robinson.

A group of pet owners formed Save Our Pets’ History in Eternity (SOPHIE) to preserve the cemetery, which was founded by Eugene C. Jones and his family. A nine-person board of directors runs SOPHIE.

David Stiller, president of SOPHIE’s board, offered to show a Patch reporter around. The first stop was a mausoleum, which was erected in 1929 and stands at the highest point in the cemetery overlooking the grass below. Inside the building are the cremated remains of birds, dogs and cats safeguarded behind engraved marble-covered niches.

The oldest structure in the park is a mausoleum built in 1929. Credit Reza Gostar

In the oldest part of the park, Stiller walked toward his cat Majesty’s grave, laid to rest 21 years ago, and quickly arranged the flowers placed on top.

“My cat Majesty was the kind of cat that would not be in the sun, so his little plot is in a shaded area underneath a big tree,” Stiller said. “This is the real, real old section if you look at the headstones . . . 1937, 1936, 1929.”

Many famous names can be found at the park including Hopalong Cassidy’s horse Topper, Rudolph Valentino’s Great Dane Kabar and The Little Rascals’ playful Pete the Pup. In other areas of the park, visitors can find Charlie Chaplin’s cat or Humphrey Bogart’s dog.

credit Reza Gostar”]

“We will be here for another fifteen years, roughly and then we’ll be full,” said Stiller. “We have an endowment to maintain the insurance, the water and the groundskeepers in perpetuity.”

Thankfully, there are more and more options for people who seek to memorialize and honor their pet’s passing. Pet crematories, pet funeral homes, and Animal Chaplaincy Services such as those I offer, as well as innumerable pet memorial products (see that link on this blog) exist to help people give a fitting end to their animal companion’s life. However, there is the not-fun-to-think-about topic of what to do with your pet’s physical body when he or she dies. This article should help. —Sid

Burying a Cat or Dog: What You Need to Know

Posted by pet editor on August 4, 2010 · Leave a Comment

It’s the last labor of love you’ll perform for your furry friend: making arrangements for pet burial or cat or dog cremation. Those final decisions are probably something you’d rather not think about, but somebody has to make sure your pet rests in peace—and within legal limits.

<!–FOR PETS IN GENERAL–>

Dealing with Pet Loss: The Vet is the Undertaker

You can count on your veterinarian to dispose of the body if you have your animal euthanized or if the pet dies at the veterinarian’s office.

If you’re considering pet cremation, with ashes to spread in a beloved area, ask your veterinarian for a referral.

If you’d prefer to bury your animal in your yard, let the veterinarian know as you check in for your last visit.

What to Do about Pet Disposal When an Animal Dies at Home

What do you do if your pet dies at home or is killed by a car and you don’t want to deal with the remains? In a city or large town, call your local Dead Animal Disposal Unit.  Such officials will usually come and take the body for disposal. Who pays depends on city or county policy, but don’t be shy about asking whether you’ll incur any charges.

In a small town or rural area, find out whether similar services are available by calling the local Humane Society, sheriff’s office, or police department. Folks there should know or should be able to put you in touch with someone who does.

If you’re more comfortable bringing your dead animal to the vet’s office than having strangers cart off your pet, call and see whether your vet is willing to take care of the body. Most will be. Do this within a few hours of a pet’s death, as decomposition begins quickly.

Making a Pet Grave: Call Before You Dig

If you’re burying anything larger than a guinea pig, find out legal restrictions on burying animals in your yard by calling the county or city Dead Animal Disposal Unit. Most large towns and cities ban the practice because they’re worried about runoff water pollution, but you can sometimes plead for an exception to be made.

Animal burial is usually permitted in rural areas and small towns, but double-check with authorities. If you can’t find a number for the Dead Animal Disposal Unit in the town or county, call the local sheriff’s office or police department, the county health department, or the town hall to find out whom to ask.

Burial Details for a Cat or Dog Memorial

When you prepare to bury your pet, dig a hole deep enough to have at least one to three feet of dirt on top of the body. (Use the higher measure if you live in a wet climate or have light or sandy soil that washes away easily in rain.) That keeps marauding animals from disturbing the body, discourages curious kids from digging up the remains, and keeps the body from washing away in heavy storms.

It’s a good idea to keep all animal graves at least 250 feet from natural water sources such as springs and wells.

After the Pet Funeral, Let There Be New Life

Since you have the ground tilled anyway, consider planting some daffodil bulbs, a flowering bush, rosemary (to symbolize remembrance), or anything else that will commemorate your pet and give you a reason to come outside and think about the animal every now and then.

When the Cold, Cold Ground Is Too Cold

Sometimes the ground is too firmly frozen to allow burial of even the tiniest gerbil. In this case, you have two options: (1) Ask your veterinarian, the city, or the county to dispose of the body, or (2) put the body “on ice” until the ground thaws. If you choose the latter, “bury” a tiny animal in a clay or peat pot (do not use plastic) of indoor potting soil, wrap the pot in a plastic bag, and store the whole thing in a shed, unheated garage, crawl space, or unused tree house until you can “transplant” the body. After the soil thaws, take off the bag and bury the animal, pot and all. The whole thing will eventually become part of the soil. Don’t forget to take care of this as soon as the weather warms up. (Mark a reminder on your calendar!)

For a Bigger Animal, It’s a Bigger Deal

When the animal is larger than a toy breed or cat, it’s best to let the authorities take care of disposal, if that’s an option. But if you’re attached to the idea of burying your pet under his favorite tree out back and he dies in the middle of January, you can wrap the body in four layers of plastic leaf bags and place it in one of those giant handle-lock plastic garbage cans (available at home supply and discount stores). Transplant the body the second the ground can be worked, engaging a backhoe operator (look in the classified ads of your local newspaper under a heading such as “Livestock and Farm”) to dig up the area if necessary. Never proceed without first getting the approval of your city’s or county’s Dead Animal Disposal Unit or, in a small town, the local sheriff’s office or county health department.

Alternatively, check to see whether your vet might have a freezer storage area that you could use or rent until the ground thaws.

The very talented Georgette Weitz of Loyal Pet Loss just sent me one of her stunning pet tribute frames, featuring my beloved Westie Ludwig in a picture and with his name engraved on it. It really is gorgeous, and I urge you to visit my Pet Loss Memorial Products Page on this blog to see samples of her work. Remember, your pet doesn’t need to have passed on to warrant one of these terrific collages. Celebrate them while they’re here, too!

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