When Your Pet Passes On

By Alexandra Schaefers

PetDeathAs much as we love our pets and spend inordinate amounts of money paying for surgeries and even acupuncture in hopes of extending their lives, chances are good that we will outlive them. And just as the days of letting nature take its course with pets are long gone, so fade the shoe box burial rites. For as intimate as we are with our animals these days, it is only fitting that they receive the same care in death that we provide our own kind. 

Most vet offices work with a particular crematory, so whether your pet needs to be euthanized or has died at home they can send your departed away for cremation. A private cremation allows you to keep the animal’s ashes and will cost at least $70 depending on the crematory, what urn you choose, and how much your animal weighs.  Communal cremations start at $30. While the remains aren’t returned, you can be assured that your animal moved along to the other side with the utmost respect as the animals’ bodies do not touch each other in the process. You can also make arrangements directly with a crematory. Some even have the option of arranging a viewing if you need the comfort of knowing your pet was cremated alone and thus the only entity in your urn. 

There are all kinds of urns available, as well as keepsakes. You can keep part of Fido with you at all times in a tiny urn necklace or light a memorial in a candle-holder containing some of his ashes. High-volume, multigenerational pet owners might consider a family pet urn that will hold multiple pets, sort of like a sand painting of different personalities. If you want to get the last word in with a cantankerous cat, you can place the remains in an urn designed to disintegrate in the ocean and ship it out to sea. On the other hand, losing your best animal friend can be just as traumatic as a dearly departed human—do not hesitate to seek grief counseling if you need it. The certified veterinary chaplain in our area is the Reverend Renee Windsor-White, who works through OSU’s small animal clinic and Safe Haven in Albany.

Home burials are the cheapest way to dispose of your pet, but with increased mobility and density it’s not as appealing as it used to be. Cremation is a swiftly growing trend for animals and people. Technically speaking, burying pets within Corvallis city limits is illegal. There don’t appear to be any regulations for those living in the county, but Bill Emminger of the Environmental Health Division in Benton County recommends burying pets at least 100 feet away from water sources used for drinking and 25 feet from property lines. He also suggests contacting local officials to see if the grave site should be recorded with County Deeds Records. 

Whether you have a shoe box burial or spread your animal’s ashes in the backyard you can honor them with a personalized headstone and grave marker available at crematories or online. If you want your pet in an actual cemetery, Willamette Memorial in Albany is the only one in the area that buries pets. The plot, internment, and container will cost at least $235 for a small animal.