Mobile lifestyle making pet cremation popular - NBC12.com - Richmond, VA News

Mobile lifestyle making pet cremation popular

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RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) -

We love them and they give it back unconditionally, which is why pet owners are digging deep to pay for their pet's final farewell.

"I knew eventually he was going to go," said Allene Kann. She still has fond memories of her constant companion, Louie. "I started thinking of him like a family member to me."

Louie was Kann's 12-year-old yellow lab. Kann says she knew with Louie's age that he would not be around much longer, but she wanted to do more than just bury him in the back yard. "What I wanted to do is make it the best experience for him and all of us that loved him so much," she said.

So Kann decided to do what a growing number of pet owners are doing, and had Louie cremated.

Todd Dean owns Loving Pets Crematory in Richmond and Paws and Remember Crematory in Staunton.

"Some people look at their pets as their pets, but a lot of people look at them as family members," he said. Dean was a funeral director for more than 20 years and started doing pet cremation about four years ago.

"People go, 'I can't grieve over my pet!' Well, you can! And it's OK. Some people have funerals," he said.

While dogs and cats are his most frequent customers, he's cremated everything: a turtle, rabbits, birds, a pig, an alpaca. He's even cremated a gold fish.

"We did have a 20-pound cat one time," Dean said. "Big cat! Big cat!"

Dean uses a tracking system to ensure pet remains end up with the right family after cremation. And these days, people have all sorts of ways to honor their furry friends.

"We can put some adhesive in there and seal that up," said Dean. He sells urns and headstones. He can have the ashes put into jewelry or even make a memorial with your pet's paw prints. He even sells pet caskets, though he says fewer people are opting to bury their pet in the backyard. "I think it's because we're so mobile. We move, and we don't want to leave our pet behind," he said.

According to Bloomberg Businessweek, pet funerals are a booming business, with about 700 pet aftercare facilities nationwide. Cremations usually run from $100 to $300.

But whether it's cremation or burial, for Kann, it was simply about finding the best way to remember her dog Louie.

"I wanted it to be the most comforting for him but still give us a connection," she said.

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