Snow Leopard

Snow Leopard
Snow Leopard cub (7 mos old) - Cape May County Zoo

Sunday, August 21, 2011

After Death

Today's blog was inspired by a friend who has to say a formal goodbye to her Mom today. She is in my thoughts and prayers. It brought the topic of finalizing goodbyes to our furry loved ones to my mind.

What does one do with a beloved pet after he/she dies or is euthanized?

This is something we have to discuss nearly daily. Most people are aware of their options but not everyone has to had to go through the process.

There are 3 basic choices:

1. Bury at home - I do not know if this is legal or illegal in your locale but many people have done it without any trouble. My thought is that deer, squirrels, rodents, etc die all the time out there - what's the difference??  Keep in mind though that if you move, you are going to have to leave your pet behind.

2. Group cremation - this is where a private crematory puts several pets in the incinerator and the ashes are buried or spread somewhere together.

3. Individual cremation - this is where you get your own pet's ashes back in some type of box or urn. If you have any doubt about the credibility of this process ask them to see their facility. They may let you watch - if you can deal with that. I know of several very reputable companies that do get you YOUR pet back.

Cremations are often based on weight - a mastiff will cost a bit more than a 5 lb cat. Also if you want your pet back, it will cost more. They have to clean out the crematory and then only do one pet at a time which obviously means it will cost them time/money. 

Most vets have one or two of these services they work with. They come to pick up the pets from the practice and then take them and return the ashes when necessary.

There are a few other things people do to help memorialize their pets.

 I once went to a pet funeral at a lovely place in NJ. A very dedicated client lost their pet to bone cancer after a long battle. I didn't know what to expect but it was done very tastefully and not "over the top." The dog was in a small casket for viewing. They did an excellent job as it looked like he was simply sleeping. After the owners said a few words, we went to his personal burial site and said goodbye. This is an option for pet owners - even just getting a personal burial site with a tombstone - but obvious will cost more money.

I also work at a place that does clay paw prints for clients. You can then put the name and a few decorations on it, bake it and its permanent. I had one done on Arizona. 

Some people get memorial rocks made up for their garden:

The other thing I have seen - but personally not something *I* would do - is have a few of the ashes put into jewelry. This can be for human or pet ashes.

Here is just one company that does it: Ashes to Ashes but there are others. If interested - just Google something about pet ashes/remains and jewelry.

These decisions are all very personal ones. There is no "right" one. You have to decide what you want and need to do to best memorialize your pet and give you closure.


  1. FYI - in Georgia if you don't bring the pet home or choose cremation the vet will charge a disposal fee and your beloved pet will end up in the landfill. It is a difficult enough time without finding out later that you didn't realize where your pet was going to be disposed .

  2. Interesting. There is no other option where I have worked - ever. You either take home or choose if you want ashes back or not. No "no choice" option.

  3. I have seen the memorial rocks in backyard areas in Colorado Christine and Reading. These are tasteful and set a respectful and reflective mood.