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City funeral home first to offer pet cremations and memorials

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Troy Shantz

A city funeral home is looking after “all the member of the family” by launching cremation and funeral services for pets, its owner says.

“Basically it’s an extension of what we do,” said Cameron McCormack, of McCormack Funeral Home – Stewart Chapel. “We are looking after people who have experienced a loss.”

Cameron McCormack
Cameron McCormack

The home is believed to be the first in Lambton County to offer animal services.

“It’s interesting to see people, losing a person versus losing a pet. I’ve seen a lot more emotion from people who have lost a pet,” McCormack said.

Dogs and cats are expected to be the norm, but staff is open to helping owners of all types of finned and feathered pets — just not livestock.

“Although I can’t say I wouldn’t do a goose,” he clarified.

McCormack, who acquired the former Stewart Funeral Home in 2009, has been developing the service for some time and the first pet client was cremated earlier this month.

“I’ve been overwhelmed with the response,” he said, noting he’s largely been engaging with prospective customers on social media.

“We have a number of clients that have expressed that they will be using us in the near future,” including at least one hedgehog, he added.

What exactly does a pet funeral look like?

McCormack said it can be similar to a traditional human service: offering to collect the body of the pet, preparing it for final viewing, facilitating cremation, and returning the ashes to the family.

The home is also happy to host memorial services and visitation, he said.

“If there was someone in the family that wanted to speak, if there was a refreshment that they wanted to have at that time, if they wanted a formal memorialization similar to how we’d do it, we’d be willing to provide that.”

Canadians own an estimated 7.9 million cats and 5.9 million dogs, according to a recent Ipsos Reid study.

In the U.S., pet loss businesses handled nearly 1.9 million animals in 2012, of which 99% were cremated.

McCormack said a basic cremation for a small family member (under 20 pounds) start at $99 and goes up depending on the size of the pet, the family’s requests and the facilities required.

Fuffy’s ashes can be memorialized in an urn, memorial paw prints, or even in jewelry containing a portion of her cremated remains.

McCormack said the home also has access to pet cemeteries, but prospective customers should beware the nearest one is in St. Thomas, Ont.

He added that working with a family grieving the loss of a four-legged friend is a different dynamic.

“They give you that unquestionable love,” he said. “With people you have your ups and downs. With pets you have many more ups.”



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