Ashes to ashes

Pet cremation options in the Miami Valley

By Tim Walker

Our pets, the loved ones to whom this annual issue of the Dayton City Paper is dedicated – what can be said about our beloved animal friends that hasn’t already been echoed many times before in these and other pages? They allow us to share our lives with them, to care for them, to spend our days and nights in their furry embrace, and in return, they nurture us and give us their love. With their company, our lives are made whole. But there is an unspoken pact that is implicit in sharing your life with a pet – there is the understanding that we will almost definitely outlive them and that, as loving family members, they will be treated properly and with dignity when they reach the end of their time on this earth.

Loss is never easy. On Feb. 22, 2014, my dog Bubba, a constant companion for 16 years, was euthanized. There was no other option, and I stood there with him, and I held his paw and scratched him between the ears the way he’d always liked and when it was over I cried. A small terrier, Bubba had traveled with my wife and I for years, visiting nearly every state, and he had friends from all walks of life – he was, in every sense of the phrase, a “good dog.” And when he was gone, my wife looked at me and said, “I want Bubba’s ashes here with us, and when I die, I want him buried with me.” So, I called Snider Pet Crematory on Philadelphia Drive.

“For us, this is natural,” says Richard Snider, the owner of Snider Pet Crematory in Dayton, a division of Baker-Hazel & Snider Funeral Home. “This is our pet crematory’s eighth year of business, as well as the 75th year of business at the funeral home – my daughter is fourth generation and I am third – and this is just a natural extension of us caring for people, so it hasn’t been necessarily very hard for us.

“It is hard for people to lose their pets,” he continues. “The business has been a good thing for us, and hopefully for the consumer, as well. The challenging part for us has been the amount of pets every month that we serve, the amount of people that we take care of. Currently, we’re serving about 115 pet families every month. We also serve five or six different area vets regularly, so we help them as well as making ourselves available to the public.”

“We have some people who just walk in and bring their pets to us,” says Jane Minges, who handles sales and marketing for Paws & Remember, which has licensed pet crematories in 10 states, including one on Main Street in Miamisburg. “We do the paperwork right here in the office, then we direct them around to the side of the building where one of our pet cremation technicians will meet them and take their pet from them. They’ll do all of the necessary procedures to cremate the pet and package it up, and then we contact the family when the pet is ready to be picked up.”

When asked if there are any size restrictions on pet cremation, Minges says, “We can’t do anything as big as a horse, just because our facility isn’t large enough. We have done goats, we have done a llama, we’ve done a pot-bellied pig – so we’ve had quite the variety. All the way down to something as small as a parrot.”

Ultimately, caring for loved ones who are grieving over the loss of a pet is no different than caring for those who are mourning the loss of a human family member. A compassionate, caring touch is welcome, especially when people experience loss.

“I think for me, personally and what we’ve experienced, pets provide unconditional love,” Snider continues. “Even though adults are supposed to do that, it’s a little harder for us adults to provide that. So, when a family loses a pet, they’re losing a pet that provided them unconditional love. It doesn’t matter what kind of day they had at work; when they come home, their pet is always glad to see them. So because of that, I think it’s a very emotional thing. First of all, there’s the physical loss of the pet, but there’s also the loss of companionship. So, we don’t belittle that. We know that it’s really important. It’s important that we take care of people and realize that this is an emotional thing.”

For more information or to make arrangements, please contact Snider Pet Crematory at 937.274.1145 or visit sniderpetcrematory.com or Paws & Remember at 937.866.2444 or visit pawsandremember.com.

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Tim Walker
Tim Walker is 51 and a writer, DJ, and local musician. He lives with his wife and their two children in Dayton, where he enjoys pizza, jazz, and black T-shirts. Reach DCP freelance writer Tim Walker at TimWalker@DaytonCityPaper.com

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