Saying goodbye to a loved one is never easy, even when that loved one is the family pet. While it may be traditional to bury your pet in the yard or woods, some are turning to pet cemeteries for a funeral and burial.
One location where pets are treated like family is Pet Haven Memorial Park and Crematory Services in Snow Hill, Greene County. Owner Mary Rose Vaughan has been helping families say goodbye to their pets for twenty-five years. "We have a minister that does services for us when we have funerals. We have anything a regular cemetery would have for people. I've had a few pets embalmed that people really wanted embalmed."
Graham and Jean Mallard of Kinston had their pet Chihuahua Sam buried at Pet Haven. Graham says they visit every Saturday, rain or shine. "We bring a rose or some flower out of our yard. We have a prayer. We cut the grass by hand."
Other pet owners, like Sandy Crumpler of Elm City, choose to have their pets cremated. That's what she did for her Jack Russell Terriers Spud and Taz. Now she keeps their urns and ashes on her mantle at home and gives them a kiss every night. Crumpler says, "I have a child so it's not like I don't know the love of a child. You don't know the love of an animal until you have one for 16-years and every step you take they're under your feet."
For those who have their pets cremated or buried in a pet cemetery, they consider it a normal part of life, just like taking care of any other loved one. But they acknowledge probably not everyone sees it that way. Crumpler says, "I know there's a lot of people that think it's crazy, it's a waste of money. But this is just something I wanted to do and I feel like they're there. People can call it crazy. I don't care."
The hundreds of others who have pets buried at Pet Haven regularly put down flowers, statues, solar crosses that light up at night, and special markers. They say It's a proper goodbye that helps them say hello to another loving four-legged friend.
In addition to Pet Haven, there are about four other such businesses in Eastern Carolina. Vaughan says the cost at Pet Haven generally starts at around $250.00 and goes up depending on what a pet owner wants.