BATAVIA – Ben and Gloria Grado of Geneva were devastated when their 13-year-old cockapoo, Bailey, was attacked in April by a coyote who had gotten in their backyard.
Bailey’s injuries were so severe, the Grados felt they had no choice but to put her to sleep. But they wanted to keep a permanent remembrance of their beloved pet in their home.
The couple turned to Moss Family Funeral Homes, which recently started offering pet cremations. Moss operates funeral homes in Batavia and St. Charles.
“We have a real love for animals, especially dogs,” Ben Grado said. “We treat them as if they are human.”
Bailey now rests in an urn in the couple’s house that is imprinted with her paw print. Ben Grado said he was impressed with the compassion that Moss owner/funeral director Bryan Moss and his staff showed toward them.
“They treat you like you are dealing with a human being,” he said.
Moss Family Funeral Homes has been offering pet cremations since fall 2013 through Moss Family Paws, a division of the funeral home.
“I saw there was a need in this area for families who wanted to properly memorialize their family member,” Moss said. “This is what we do. We help people when they lose a loved one.”
Moss said he knows the attachment that people have with their pets. His beloved English bulldog, Gertrude, passed away in 2010 at the age of 12.
“I grew up with pets my whole life,” he said. “A pet becomes part of one’s family. My way of thinking is to give these pets some dignity at the time of their passing.”
The demand for pet cremations is there. The funeral home has performed up to 15 private cremations a week, he said. Most of the cremations have been for dogs and cats.
“But we’ve also had cremations for ferrets, rabbits, hamsters, gerbils and reptiles,” Moss said.
The funeral home started offering the service shortly after opening its own crematory last year. The pet cremations are done in a separate machine than the one used for humans, he said.
A growing number of people are memorializing their pets through pet cremation, said Robert Fells, executive director and general counsel for the International Cemetery, Cremation and Funeral Association. To meet that demand, the association formed the Pet Loss Professionals Alliance several years ago, Fells said.
“If you are a pet owner like I am, you kind of know how a person feels,” Fells said. “The sense of grief or bereavement is the same if it is a human or a pet. Grief is grief.”
Malone Funeral Home in Geneva also provides pet cremation, although it does not advertise the service.
“We can take care of whatever services people need, whether they are for pets or otherwise,” said Pam Van Treeck, Malone office manager.
Although Malone does not have its own crematory, the funeral home has worked with a crematory to perform pet cremations for different family members and friends.
“There hadn’t been a demand for it,” Van Treeck said. “Now there seems to be more of a demand for it.”
Moss Family Paws provides services such as placement of the cremated remains into an urn, delivery or pick-up service of the cremated remains, issuance of a certificate of cremation and bereavement resources.
Although the funeral home has not been asked to perform a funeral or memorial service for a pet, Moss said he would be able to accommodate such a request.
“We obviously have the facilities and know how to have a memorial service for a pet,” he said.
Information is available by going to www.mossfuneral.com/pet-services.
Ways to remember your pet
• Spend a few minutes reflecting upon pleasant memories of your pet.
• Contribute to an animal protection group.
• Volunteer at an animal protection group.
• Create a small memorial in a flower garden in your yard.
• Plant a tree or a shrub as a living memorial.
Source: International Cemetery, Cremation and Funeral Association, www.iccfa.com.