We invite you and your families to join us for our very first
Memorial Balloon Release
October 07, 2012 from 2-4pm
@ Heritage Park Amphitheater in Simpsonville, SC 29680
Cost will be $5.00 per balloon
Proceeds will help support the Greenville Humane Society
Questions? Call 866-332-3738
If you can not attend or live out of state
& would like to purchase a balloon for us to release in your
Pets memory please call the above number
We will write a message on the balloon with a sharpie marker
And release at the service
Balloon Releases are commonly used, and can be an environmentally safe way of memorializing and remembering our loved ones who have gone before us.
Honoring a loved one that has passed away should be a respectful and proud declaration to them with loving conviction. While grief and mourning are a part of the remembrance and healing process, family and friends are a solid path and it should bear no anxiety.
With Fido forever: Owners who want to be buried in pet cemeteries
Some dog and cat lovers have selected a unique spot for their final resting place
Courtesy of Richard Harris
Richard Harris and his wife have four dogs buried at Hartsdale Pet Cemetery, one waiting to be interred, and three more living with them who will eventually be laid to rest there. He and his wife plan to join them for eternity.
By Kristen Seymour
updated 1/27/2012 11:22:05 AM ET2012-01-27T16:22:05
Richard and Debra Harris selected a lovely spot for their final resting place in a picturesque, historic, five-acre cemetery just north of Manhattan. The trees and rolling hills make it easy to remember that the area was once an apple orchard, and on sunny days, the sprawling location is often bustling with family members visiting the deceased.
The Harrises, ages 68 and 55, had a beautiful marble bench custom made to fit around a tree on the plot, and many of their loved ones are already buried in adjoining plots.
So what makes their situation worthy of a mention? The cemetery they selected was a pet cemetery — and the loved ones they want to be buried near are their dogs. And last year, the state of New York banned the burial of human remains in pet cemeteries, leaving the Harrises — along with several other pet lovers with similar plans — in a lurch.
The burial of human remains in pet cemeteries isn’t exactly commonplace, but it’s a practice that’s been happening across the nation quietly for years. But last year, Hartsdale Pet Cemetery and Crematory, the oldest operating pet cemetery in the world and where the Harrises had purchased plots for themselves, was thrust into the news when the state required them to stop.
A number of people had already purchased plots at Hartsdale,located just outside New York City in Westchester County, with plans to be buried there — in some cases, such as with the Harrises, thousands of dollars had even been spent on a custom marker for the spot. In others, the plot holder had already passed away, and their loved ones were simply trying to carry out the deceased’s last wishes.
Taylor York, a New York attorney and professor of constitutional law, was at a standstill: Her aunt had been laid to rest alongside her dogs in Hartsdale in 2008, but her uncle passed away last year after the Board instituted the ban, and York was unable to bury him with his wife and their beloved dogs.
Reversal of fortune Much to the relief of those involved, the decision was reversed late last year (after York filed several administrative appeals and was about to file a lawsuit with other concerned plot holders), with a few provisions — New York pet cemeteries may not advertise or charge for the burial of cremated human remains, and humans wishing to be interred in a pet cemetery must receive written notice that their remains will not be covered by the protections and legal rights granted to human cemeteries.
Hartsdale Pet Cemetary and Crematory.
But, it got us thinking. Even among true animal lovers, who often leave direction to have their pets ashes buried with them in a regular cemetery, the choice to be buried next to one’s cats and dogs in a pet cemetery is unusual. In fact, since opening its gates in 1896, New York’s Hartsdale’s director Ed Martin, Jr., estimates that only 500 to 700 humans have been buried there — those records were not accurately kept until Martin arrived in 1974.
In contrast, there are some 70,000 animals buried at the location. Although Hartsdale is one of the best-known pet cemeteries allowing this practice, it is not the only one. Human owners are buried at Pet Heaven Memorial Park in Miami, Fla., where general manager Sergio Santos says there has been an increase in requests for the service. Keith Shugart, vice president of Oak Rest Pet Gardens in Bethlehem, Ga., has seen the same trend.
Whether or not humans can be buried in a pet cemetery, and under what circumstances, isn’t tracked on a national level — it’s up to each county, city, and, ultimately, the pet cemetery itself, although regardless of where one chooses to be buried, it’s always a good idea to specify that choice in a will.
'I can't imagine a better place' A common theme among people who’ve made plans to be buried at Hartsdale, aside from an obvious love of animals, is the sense of peace the location brings. The Harrises, who split their time between Wells, Maine, and Port St. Lucie, Fla., have four dogs buried there, one waiting to be interred, and three more living with them who will eventually be laid to rest in the cemetery.
Courtesy of Jessie Adair
Jessie Adair plans to be buried with Beamer, her Italian Greyhound (pictured) and her rescue cat, Binky.
When they made the decision a year and a half ago to purchase a plot for themselves (and spent more than $3,000 on the custom bench), they had no qualms.
“You could spend days there reading the headstones. I can’t imagine a better place,” said Richard.
Others were more surprised, both by the location and their own decision. Jessie Adair, 64, first visited the location when an elderly friend showed her the three plots she’d purchased for her own pets.
“At first I was taken aback by the idea of a pet cemetery,” said the customer service representative. “But with that very first visit, I was stunned by the physical beauty of the place and completely won over by the idea that pet owners, if cremated, could also be buried with their pets.”
She later buried Beamer, an Italian Greyhound that she credits with helping her through a deep depression and saving her life, and a rescued cat named Binky, there.
“It was after paying several visits to Hartsdale and each time spending hours walking the grounds and reading all the loving inscriptions on the monuments that I realized how at peace I felt whenever I visited Binky and Beamer. I knew then that this was where I wanted to be buried,” said Adair, who lives in nearby Riverdale, NY.
Ellen Kole, Ph.D., a teacher of French, Spanish and English language and literature, shared a similar sentiment.
“After learning about and visiting Hartsdale, seeing its beauty and peacefulness, I could imagine no other place and with no one else I would rather be buried. I selected a spot under a flowering Japanese maple tree and the thought that our ashes will be together gives me peace of mind.”
Telling family As one might imagine, the news of a loved one choosing to be buried among pets, no matter how much those pets are loved, can ruffle some family feathers.
Bunny Ryan, who died in 2008, is now buried at Hartsdale Pet Cemetery with her husband and two dogs.
“I was careful about whom I told of my plans, knowing that many would feel them strange at the very least,” Kole said, who lives in Manhattan. “The good friends I did tell thought it was a wonderful idea. I did not tell my brother, whom I love very much, until later on, as we are quite different. He is proud of my accomplishments, but he already thinks I'm somewhat eccentric and I think this ties the bow on the package. Nonetheless, he has taken it gracefully and accepts and will fulfill my plans.”
Adair had a similar experience with sharing the news of her decision.
“I come from a very traditional family in terms of being buried with a church service in a family plot with other family members, etc. But when they realized I was serious, I think they came to understand that for me, it was a perfect fit.”
For York's aunt and uncle, who never had children and considered their dogs their family, there was a happy ending, she reported on her web site.
Retired New York City police office Tom Ryan was laid to rest at Hartsdale Dec. 23rd, alongside his wife Bunny, and their "two Maltese babies, BJ the First and BJ the Second."
Recently, pet cremation business Heaven’s Pets said they began getting an influx of business.
Out of sight, in the back of the Lake Lawn Metairie Cemetery, under the sound of an incinerator, Jen Melius was hard at work.
Melius owns Heaven’s Pets and said she has been flooded with phone calls lately.
“Why? I'm not 100 percent sure, but we have had some calls from other vets on the Northshore who in the past have not called us for service,” she said.
The calls came after one Northshore-based pet cremation business, the Pet Stop, shut down.
A flyer obtained by the WDSU I-Team said the business is located in Albany, La., and run by Jean Carpenter. Prices were listed on the flyer for regular and private cremations.
Dr. Susan Strain with the Claiborne Hill Veterinary Clinic said she used the Pet Stop for more than a decade. However, that all changed about two weeks ago.
“She gave us a call and said that part of her cremator wasn't working and she brought back the bodies they collected,” Strain said.
The call Strain received came after the WDSU I-Team called Carpenter. The I-Team discovered that Carpenter’s business wasn’t registered with the state. There wasn’t any record in Livingston Parish of any occupational license to operate, either.
Carpenter told WDSU that she had been out of the business for "a while" when asked about operating without a proper license.
However, numerous clinics from Hammond to Covington said they have used Carpenter and the Pet Stop in recent months.
Carpenter said the Pet Stop has been closed for 10 years, but said she has a man who “picks up the dogs and takes them to the dump, but my cremation business does not go with it.”
Strain said that Carpenter's closed business was news to her.
“It was more of a working relationship and we never questioned it,” Strain said.
Now, the doctor is questioning it. Strain is the wife of Dr. Mike Strain, the commissioner of the state Department of Agriculture and Forestry.
He worked with his wife until his election to state office in 2007.
“I'm sure Mike will speak with secretary (Tom) Schedler about this to see if he has any concerns, and there needs to be,” Strain said.
Schedler is the Secretary of State. All limited liability corporations and businesses have to register with the Secretary of State’s office.
Businesses that handle pet remains are required to have state and parish business licenses to operate, but don’t need a special license to handle dead pets.
MEMPHIS (WMC TV) - Environmental regulators in Mississippi said they intend to investigate a Memphis-based pet cemetery owner for cremating animal remains without a permit.
"I actually don't have a license," admitted Travis Wright, owner and operator of Pinecrest Pet Cemetery, 5100 Hacks Cross Rd. "We use an incinerator out of town."
Wright would only say his incinerator is somewhere in Mississippi. "I don't tell anybody where my incinerator is," he said.
"He needs to tell us what he constructed," said Harry Wilson, chief of permitting for the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ). Wilson said Wright would have to have a permit either to construct a pet crematory or to operate one in Mississippi.
"We must make sure he is using equipment that meets air emission standards," Wilson said.
The Action News 5 Investigators maintain an archive of stories on Wright and Pinecrest Pet Cemetery that spans 13 years. The stories include multiple complaints from clients about the cemetery's conditions and about allegations that Wright breached their burial contracts when he would not produce their pets' headstones.
"When I go out there I have a horrible time finding my little plot that we bought," said Dot Kopacek of Parkway Village, East Memphis, in a 2007 interview with Action News 5's Ben Watson.
"I hope if this keeps one person from burying their pet here and going through what I've been going through, this will all be worth the effort," said Marsha Parrish of Collierville, TN, in a 2006 interview with Action News 5's Anna Marie Hartman.
In 1997, the Memphis-Shelby County Health Department fined Wright $29,500 for the improper disposal of animal carcasses. The department's pollution control regulators determined Wright was responsible for the dumping of nearly 50 dog carcasses in a private field, according to the case record. An Olive Branch, MS, animal clinic had released the carcasses by contract to Pinecrest Pet Cemetery.
According to the record, Wright settled with the department on a $2,000 fine to be paid in $500 increments. But his first payment was more than 80 days late, voiding the settlement and reinstating the original five-figure fine.
The record's unclear whether Wright ever paid more than $500.
According to MDEQ engineer Dallas Baker, Wright applied for a Mississippi permit to construct a pet crematory in 1998. Baker said the agency determined Wright's application was incomplete because it did not provide adequate information about "stack testing" -- the amount and type of his crematory's emissions.
Baker said MDEQ sent three letters to Wright, requesting clarification of his emissions plans. Baker said Wright ignored each letter. MDEQ subsequently withdrew Wright's permit application.
"I guess I've disobeyed the rules all my life," Wright said. "I guess I'm a maverick or whatever you want to call it."
According to the case record, Wright's cremation services crossed paths with Shelby County Sheriff's deputies and pollution control investigators in 2003. They inspected Wright's mother's home at 4959 Hacks Cross Rd. to find "...a small dead animal incinerator with numerous bones of a large mammal on the grill of the animal incinerator."
The record said "the incinerator was connected to a 1977 Chevrolet Pickup Truck (with an) expired Tennessee Tag."
"People need to stop paying this man to barbecue their animals," said one of Wright's clients, who asked not to be identified out of fear for her safety.
The client said she had to arrange to have her dog's body exhumed from its grave at Pinecrest after she learned the details of Wright's cremations in the health department's case record.
"To me, it was like digging up a child and disturbing that child's burial," she said.
Wright and his cemetery hold a "F" rating with the Better Business Bureau of the Mid-South. The BBB's record revealed six complaints in the last three years regarding contract, delivery and service issues. Two were resolved. Wright did not respond to the remaining four.
"One fella said, 'They delivered the ashes of my pet in what looked like a cookie tin,'" said bureau president Randy Hutchinson.
"I'm not trying to steal from the public," said Wright. "I guess because I don't have a (crematory) permit, if the public doesn't want to deal with me, I understand."
Barbara Wells owns and operates Dixie Memorial Pet Gardens in Millington, TN (http://dixiememorialpetcemetery.com), one of four facilities in Shelby County licensed and permitted to perform pet cremations.
She gladly gives tours of her $100,000 crematory, built with a 500-lb capacity. Health department environmentalists inspect it regularly to ensure proper maintenance and heat levels.
Her staff maintains meticulous checklists and logs. Each pet is immediately tagged for identification. Its ID follows it from crematory to urn.
"There should be identification and someone who is responsible for that pet throughout the entire process," Wells said. "I feel like that's very important for the grief process...for people to have the service done promptly and have the pet's urn back with them."
Wells suggested consumers who are shopping pet cremation or burial services should ask these questions:
* Can we visit your crematory?
* Where is your crematory?
* Can I be present when my pet is cremated?
* May I bring my pet directly to the cemetery?
* Do you offer pick-up service from my veterinarian?
* Do you pick up my pet the same day as I call?
* When will my pet be cremated after you receive it, and how quickly will I receive my pet's urn?
* Can you explain the procedures and safeguards taken to make sure my pet is kept separate and how I can know that I receive only my pet's remains?
* What are your business hours?
* How do I contact you after-hours, weekends and holidays for emergency information?
* How long have you been in business?
* Do you have a website?
Consumers should also check the company's BBB rating and licensure/permit status with the state in which it operates.
INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) - Avoiding scam artists in the pet cremation business is a little trickier than you might expect. The industry is relatively new.
The very first "pets only" funeral business opened in the United States opened in Carmel six years ago. But the business is growing and there's no one watching what's going on.
"Every single family that has a pet that's cremated has the same question in the back of their mind. And that question is, is it really my pet?" says John Pyle who runs Pet Angel, a pet crematory on the south side of Indianapolis.
Pyle says families need to ask how the crematory keeps track of each pet.
"We actually have a six step authentication process," he said.
Pyle says every animal that's brought in is tagged and numbered and has a written record of the entire process.
That's what Pyle does at his business. But it's not required. 24-Hour News 8 has learned if you buy the equipment and get zoning approval, you too can open your own pet crematory.
"Unfortunately, at this time our industry is not regulated. And unfortunately people that are in this business can do whatever they want to do," says Pyle.
Coleen Ellis is credited with having the first pet funeral business in the nation. It was in Carmel. Now she's an industry consultant and chairperson of Pet Loss Professionals Alliance, a trade group that is trying to put professional standards in place.
"And making sure they're abiding by ethical processes and abiding by the standard that we abide by in the human side," says Ellis.
Ellis and Pyle say you should find a crematory that has a tracking process for your pet, allows you inside the business unannounced and has separate equipment for what’s called community cremations, where you don't keep the ashes, and individual cremation where you do.
Remember, when it comes to cremating your pet, you are on your own. So ask questions and get it in writing.
The Better Business Bureausays it has four pet crematory companies in the Indianapolis area in its data base. None has any complaints against it.
March 18, 2011
We are proud to announce our new web site! We have been working on a new site for some time now and we are pleased to present to you a new web design.
It is easy to browse and find all things related to Good Shepherd. Changes that may or maynot be noticed include;
Improved search function for finding your pet's name on the memorial page.
Easier search for products and services we offer.
Maps for our office locations.
Ability to add pictures and videos on the memorial page.
Share. Now you can easily share your pet's story with friends.
Upcoming advancements will include a location for you to prearrange services for your pet, and the ability to make at-need arrangements for your pet.
We will keep you updated as these and other additions are added.
The Good Shepherd Team
April 24, 2011
Pet Funeral Industry Undergoing Major Changes
Her 14-year-old dog Mico had lung cancer, and Coleen A. Ellis knew she was taking her to the vet for the last time.
She watched as the vet started to put the terrier schnauzer’s body in a garbage bag.
“I couldn’t just walk out of there with a leash and a collar,” she said. Instead, Ellis took Mico’s body home.
A local funeral home agreed to cremate Mico. As she waited in the chapel, Ellis said she was told they couldn’t turn on the lights because they were having a service for “a real death” down the hall. She vowed to make changes.
A year later, in 2004, Ellis opened what is thought to be the country’s first stand-alone pet funeral home in Indianapolis. Today, there are more than 750 pet funeral homes, pet crematories and pet cemeteries across the country — and many human funeral homes have or are looking at ways to offer services when pets die.
Ellis sold her mortuary and now runs Two Hearts Pet Loss Center, which arranges memorial services and helps people grieve the loss of a pet.
In 2009, she helped start the Pet Loss Professionals Alliance as a committee of the International Cemetery, Cremation and Funeral Association. As the industry grew, so did the alliance.
The group’s goals are simple: set and maintain standards for services related to pet deaths, such as funerals, memorials, cremations and burials.
Poul H. Lemasters, a lawyer and president of Lemasters Consulting in Cincinnati, has worked in the funeral industry for more than 15 years and is licensed as a funeral director and embalmer in Ohio and West Virginia.
“On the human side, the biggest issue out there is always wrongful cremation. On the pet side, it’s not wrongful cremations, but whether cremations are being done at all,” Lemasters said.
There have been animal dumping cases in Arizona, Virginia and Tennessee, where pets were stored instead of cremated, then taken to a landfill or dump and dropped off, he said.
Ninety percent of pet owners choose cremation rather than burial for their pets, he said.
Although cremation has been offered for a long time, other legal issues related to pets’ deaths —and even the deaths of owners who are survived by their pets —are getting more attention. Pets are named in wills, they receive trusts, they are part of prenuptial agreements. In a few states, laws are being rewritten to treat pets as more than personal property, Lemasters said.
California has a new law that says if your animal is killed maliciously, you can claim certain types of damages, Lemasters said.
In Florida, a dog died under a vet’s care and was cremated before a necropsy could be conducted. The family was awarded more than $10,000 in punitive damages.
As pets play bigger roles in people’s lives, it makes sense that they will be treated more like family when they die, and that includes holding funeral services that at one time were held only for people, said veterinarian Jane Shaw, director of the Argus Institute in the College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences at Colorado State University.
“Telling stories, playing music and reading poetry are all things that allow us to express what this individual meant to us,” she said, “whether it’s human or animal.”
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