Pet Cremation Gets More Popular

Cost to cremate a pet ranges from $110 and $340; individual burial in the cemetery in a casket is $850 for a small pet up to $1,400 for a large one

By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant

For many people, pets are part of the family. Saying goodbye to a little friend is never easy. But finding a way to honor and memorialize a pet’s life helps make their passing a bit less difficult to bear.

“Sometimes, we’re the only people who want to hear the story,” said Polly Hanna, owner of Rush Inter Pet, Inc. in Rush. “We ask what happened because we care.”

The business operates a well-tended pet cemetery with options including a headstone and casket or a general burial place. Either of these provides an option for people who either lack land or the ability to bury a pet or anticipate moving. Cremation is also a choice.

“People want to keep the ashes with them,” Hanna said. “This is a society that moves around a lot. This way, they can take the ashes with them.”

She added that when the pet owner dies, they can have their pet’s ashes buried with them.

Some clients view cemeteries as a waste of land and want their pets cremated to save space. But overall, “they definitely want to know what happens to their pet when they die,” Hanna said.

Her business cares for the remains of cats and dogs, but has also handled lizards, turtles, iguanas and birds.

Andrea Dunadee Harris, vice president at Pet Passages in Rochester, also said that the transient nature of the population explains the shift toward pet cremation.

“I lived in a townhouse,” she recalled. “When my first dog died, I didn’t have the option to bury him.”

Seeking an option for her deceased dog led her to Pet Passages where she met Mike Harris, the company founder whom she married two years later.

“If someone knows their pet is going to pass, they can give us a call,” Harris said. “We fill out forms. It mirrors the human funeral side. If someone in your family planning for their death, they can make arrangements prior to that time so it’s a little easier for the rest of the family.”

Pet owners can bring their deceased animal to Pet Passages or a company representative can pick up the remains either from the client’s home or from the vet’s office. They all receive a nose print and paw print and have the option to receive a claw paw impression and fur clipping.

Clients can also have their pet euthanized at Pet Passages through a traveling vet.

“Most pets aren’t comfortable going to the vet’s office,” Harris said. “You don’t want their last minutes and memories under stress. We offer a peaceful place to do that here if they choose. People should know that they have a choice as to who they use for their cremation services. A vet’s office is usually associated with a facility but that doesn’t mean that’s who you have to use.”

Pet Passages charges between $110 and $340 for cremation and an urn, depending upon the animal’s weight.

At Rush Inter Pet, individual burial in the cemetery in a casket is $850 for a small pet up to $1,400 for a large one. Cremation cost ranges between $150 and $250.