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Pet Burial, Goldfish to Horse

Aunt Azelda’s tiny mutt Taffy has died. I’m on duty for the burial arrangements.

“We have taken care of pets ranging from goldfish to horses,” says Mick Palermo of San Diego Pet Memorial Park in Mira Mesa [858-909-0009; sdpetpark.com]. We have a service that will go and pick up the horse and bring it to our facility for cremation [$1000 to $2400].”

Most people, of course, are not dealing with a horse. “If someone wants a pet buried, they can come here to the park. We’ll pick a plot together, and they’ll sign a terms-and-conditions agreement for that plot. It covers things such as annual maintenance fees. Then we set an appointment for burial, and the plot will be prepared prior to the client’s arrival. We provide a viewing in the chapel, and then we take them to the plot and lower the pet — inside its casket — into the ground.”

Caskets can range from simple to “as fancy as human caskets, if not fancier. Cost varies with size and detail, from $150 to $700. Burial cost is $850 to $1200. But some people do spend more; someone here just spent $5000 on a headstone. They have a large family plot — the stone is almost six feet long.”

But burial is the exception, says Palermo. “Ninety-eight percent of people want their pets cremated. We can do private or individual cremation. Private is where only your pet is in the crematory. Individual is where several animals are put in at once, with partitions separating them. You get back only your pet’s ashes. Prices run $150 to $400.” (Communal cremation is also done but only through veterinarians. In that case, the ashes are scattered at the park.)

“We are all pet owners and pet lovers here,” concluded Palermo. “We have pets that run around... I live here on site with my family. We offer bereavement classes once a month to promote healing after the loss of a pet. It’s not so much grief counseling as it is celebrating your pet’s life.”

Alex Dronick of Sorrento Valley Pet Cemetery (619-276-3361; svpc.biz) says that he has the only pet cemetery in San Diego County with permanent zoning. “They can’t claim eminent domain on us, so we will never have to move your pet.”

Prices at Sorrento Valley start at $600. “That’s our ‘no bells and whistles’ burial, with a hand-built casket from us. It doesn’t include a headstone. Headstones range from $300 to $800, depending on how many letters and if you want a picture.”

Dronick said that he couldn’t give exact numbers on burial costs, because “the price is based on the length of the pet and the type of casket selected. Also, a client may do a pre-need purchase — that is, you have one pet that has passed on and another pet that is still living, and you eventually want to bury them one on top of the other. In that case, we go double-deep when we dig for the first pet.”

There is a parrot buried at Sorrento Valley, but Dronick says that most small pets — such as hamsters and rabbits — get cremated. Price varies for cremation, as well: this time by weight. “For zero to 3 pounds, it’s $72; 4 to 30, $90.... Our most popular urn is a little cedar box with a gold lock: $30 for the small, going up to extra-large in $5 increments. We also have urns that look like vases. And if you don’t want an urn, we have a scatter tree, beneath which you may scatter your pet’s ashes. We don’t do horses.”

Jennifer at Peaceful Paws Pet Cremation & Memorial in Encinitas (855-411-7297) is a cremation-only establishment. “We offer communal cremation, mostly through veterinary services. That’s for when people don’t want the ashes back. We scatter them at sea, once a month. We also do individual cremation — each animal in a separate compartment, so that you get only your pet’s ashes back. When you get the service, we give you the remains in a cedar box, plus a clay paw print and a heart-shaped tag with your pet’s name on it. We can also pick up the pet directly from your home. Cost varies by weight: zero to 120 pounds is $250. We can do horses, but we can’t transport them to the facility.”

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Aunt Azelda’s tiny mutt Taffy has died. I’m on duty for the burial arrangements.

“We have taken care of pets ranging from goldfish to horses,” says Mick Palermo of San Diego Pet Memorial Park in Mira Mesa [858-909-0009; sdpetpark.com]. We have a service that will go and pick up the horse and bring it to our facility for cremation [$1000 to $2400].”

Most people, of course, are not dealing with a horse. “If someone wants a pet buried, they can come here to the park. We’ll pick a plot together, and they’ll sign a terms-and-conditions agreement for that plot. It covers things such as annual maintenance fees. Then we set an appointment for burial, and the plot will be prepared prior to the client’s arrival. We provide a viewing in the chapel, and then we take them to the plot and lower the pet — inside its casket — into the ground.”

Caskets can range from simple to “as fancy as human caskets, if not fancier. Cost varies with size and detail, from $150 to $700. Burial cost is $850 to $1200. But some people do spend more; someone here just spent $5000 on a headstone. They have a large family plot — the stone is almost six feet long.”

But burial is the exception, says Palermo. “Ninety-eight percent of people want their pets cremated. We can do private or individual cremation. Private is where only your pet is in the crematory. Individual is where several animals are put in at once, with partitions separating them. You get back only your pet’s ashes. Prices run $150 to $400.” (Communal cremation is also done but only through veterinarians. In that case, the ashes are scattered at the park.)

“We are all pet owners and pet lovers here,” concluded Palermo. “We have pets that run around... I live here on site with my family. We offer bereavement classes once a month to promote healing after the loss of a pet. It’s not so much grief counseling as it is celebrating your pet’s life.”

Alex Dronick of Sorrento Valley Pet Cemetery (619-276-3361; svpc.biz) says that he has the only pet cemetery in San Diego County with permanent zoning. “They can’t claim eminent domain on us, so we will never have to move your pet.”

Prices at Sorrento Valley start at $600. “That’s our ‘no bells and whistles’ burial, with a hand-built casket from us. It doesn’t include a headstone. Headstones range from $300 to $800, depending on how many letters and if you want a picture.”

Dronick said that he couldn’t give exact numbers on burial costs, because “the price is based on the length of the pet and the type of casket selected. Also, a client may do a pre-need purchase — that is, you have one pet that has passed on and another pet that is still living, and you eventually want to bury them one on top of the other. In that case, we go double-deep when we dig for the first pet.”

There is a parrot buried at Sorrento Valley, but Dronick says that most small pets — such as hamsters and rabbits — get cremated. Price varies for cremation, as well: this time by weight. “For zero to 3 pounds, it’s $72; 4 to 30, $90.... Our most popular urn is a little cedar box with a gold lock: $30 for the small, going up to extra-large in $5 increments. We also have urns that look like vases. And if you don’t want an urn, we have a scatter tree, beneath which you may scatter your pet’s ashes. We don’t do horses.”

Jennifer at Peaceful Paws Pet Cremation & Memorial in Encinitas (855-411-7297) is a cremation-only establishment. “We offer communal cremation, mostly through veterinary services. That’s for when people don’t want the ashes back. We scatter them at sea, once a month. We also do individual cremation — each animal in a separate compartment, so that you get only your pet’s ashes back. When you get the service, we give you the remains in a cedar box, plus a clay paw print and a heart-shaped tag with your pet’s name on it. We can also pick up the pet directly from your home. Cost varies by weight: zero to 120 pounds is $250. We can do horses, but we can’t transport them to the facility.”

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