The UK’s first full funeral service for PETS featuring a humanist minister was launched so animal lovers can say a spiritual goodbye to their faithful friends.
Cambridge Pet Crematorium (CPC) is collaborating with the British Humanist Association to offer devastated owners a service run by an accredited non-denominational minister.
It is believed to be the first time Humanist officiants have taken such a prominent role in funeral services for animals.
The price has not yet been finalised but includes a home visit, a personal eulogy on the animal’s character, and a chance to play the pet’s favourite music, make speeches and show photos and videos.
Minister Chris Dix, from Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, is currently drafting a ceremony that he believes will be compatible with the wants and needs of mourners.
He has already performed more than 250 human funerals after qualifying as a member of the British Humanist Association five years.
Chris said: ”As Humanists we always talk about the funeral from the point of view of a family, not an authority, like the church.
”It’s about what they want, and of people feel comforted to have a professional involved in laying their loved one to rest then we would like to help.
”It is important to go through a service that celebrates the life of the animal that died in a safe and understanding environment.”
Duncan Francis, chairman of CPC which is the largest pet cemetary in the country, said having a service to mark their pet’s passing was extremely important for some owners.
He said: ”A lot of people started coming to us and asking if we offered the service after we had washed and laid out the body before it is committed.
”We live in a really fast-paced world and pets can provide continuity and help you through difficult times in your life.
”Because we treat them as members of the family when they are alive we want to treat them as family when they die.
”We realised that pet cremation was becoming less a way of getting rid of the body and more of a sign of respect.
”People were looking for a ceremony they feel comforted by, a way to pay tribute to an animal that might have been at their side for years.
”Plenty of other pet funeral companies offer generic ‘services’ but what we neede was a trained figure of calm who could help them deal with their grief by conducting the service.”
Since the CPC, based in Thriplow, Cambs., opened in 1979 it has grown into a hugely popular service carrying out 700 cremations a week.
Staff reckon around a third of the country’s entire deceased pet population passes through their 40ft cremator, which has even incinerated elephant, zebra, camel and tiger.
Grieving animal lovers can choose from a wide variety of materials for the coffin or urn, including cardboard, wicker, oak, bamboo and metal.
Cat owner Rachel Cross, from Huntingdon, Cambs., said the pain of losing her cat Tosca to cancer was indescribable and pet funerals were an important way to grieve.
She added: ”Losing a cat is like losing part of you.”