taken from oswegonian.com

Posted By: Natalie Brophy

When family members die, we hold a funeral service for them as a way to pay tribute to and remember their lives. It is a custom that humans have practiced for thousands of years.

So how come more people do not do the same when a furry four-legged member of the family dies?

When my family’s cat, Kitty, died last year, we did not have the opportunity to properly say goodbye to him. He was hit by a car and the body of our beloved pet was tossed out like a piece of garbage by the city.

It would have meant a lot to my family and me to be able to have Kitty’s body back so we could hold a funeral service or have him cremated. It would have helped us with the grieving process. He was a member of our family. The body of a human would never be treated so disrespectfully. Even the body of Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden was treated with more respect than Kitty’s body and Kitty never brought anything but love and cuteness into the world.

In 2003, Coleen Ellis, an animal-aftercare expert, opened the United States’ first pet funeral home in Indianapolis, called the Pet Angel Memorial Center. Since then, pet funeral homes have been growing in popularity. As of 2011, Everlife Memorial’s Pet Funeral Home Directory listed more than 80 pet funeral homes in the U.S. A simple Google search of “pet funeral homes in the U.S.” will reveal a list of facilities from California, to Florida to Massachusetts where people can take their pets for proper care after death.

Ellis is the founder of the Pet Loss Professional Alliance, which works with the International Cemetery, Cremation and Funeral Association to apply the same practices used in human afterlife care to animal afterlife care. Pets in Peaceful Rest, a pet funeral home in Lockport, New York, offers transportation of your pet from your home or vet’s office to the facility, a variety of cremation packages, private memorial services, a large selection of memorial products, assistance with pet cemetery arrangements and delivery of the urn containing your pet’s ashes to your home.

When my grandparents’ dog Casey died, a kind neighbor recommended a local pet funeral home to them. They were able to have Casey’s body cremated and a memorial plaque made with her paw print on it. It really helped my grandma and grandpa grieve the loss of their beloved pet.

It should not be seen as taboo to provide afterlife care for dead pets. They are as much a part of our families as any human members. Pets have their own personalities and bring joy to our lives, cheering us up when we are sad with a cuddle on the couch or a playful lick on the cheek. They should be treated like any other member of the family and paid the proper respects after death.