The Business of Death

Creepy title, right?  The business of death is all at once descriptive and intriguing.  At least for me.  While channel surfing I ran across a commercial for this type of of a television special they had coming on.  This isn’t the exact one.  I couldn’t remember the name of it.  Essentially, it highlighted all of those people that were involved in the business of death and how much money they made when people died.  They even spotlighted a casket made of gold at one point.  This television special had all of the dramatic lighting and deep voiced announcers to make you think that in America, dying was just another one of those things that was going to the opportunistic sharks out there.  That might be true.  I still want to watch that television special.  It ultimately got me thinking about the business of death in animal medicine and what my thoughts were on it.

Personalized Pet Urn

Personalized Pet Urn


This is the exact thing that I am talking about.  The only feelings that are conjured up when I see something like this is sadness and how happy I am that a place like this exists to create a special memorial.  Our clinic works closely with a cremation company.  They are a family business that take pride in their jobs and handle it with a sensitivity that few are inherently born with and most have to master over time.  Before these companies existed, the only real alternative you had when a pet passed was to bury them in your backyard or out in the pasture.  Admittedly, during those times pets weren’t exactly regarded as the family members they are now.

When a client comes to us with a pet that needs euthanasia, we give them choices.  They can leave the pet with us and through the company we work with either have the ashes scattered or ashes returned.  If returned, they get a standard, modest urn that they offer.  Ashes scattered means different things to different people and to this company, they scatter the ashes on their beautiful properly full of live oak trees and spreading pastures.  They can also take their pet home with them (several owners chose this option).  This process is a private, oftentimes emotional moment.  Rarely do we have a client ask us if they have any kind of personalized urns (they do).  I always want that to be a client decision, versus something that we peddle.  This company does have a lot of choices if you want something special for your pet.  They’ve got breed-specific choices and ways to customize the memorial with your pet’s name.  For any clients that worry about releasing their pet to people they don’t know, the cremation company welcomes families to their facility.


Oh…the choices.

I’ve only looked through the catalog for the company we work with once or twice but I put into google a general search for pet cremation and clicked on the first website that popped up.  I hope with everything that’s in me that the passing of our dear pets don’t end up being a ‘business of death’ type of scenario.  I cringe when I see this website for its ‘lowest pricing’ and ‘biggest selection’ banners.  In my heart I know that people will eat this up.  I’m torn between the lack of human connection that this website leaves you with and the knowledge that people are going to want something special, personalized, or customized when FeFe passes.

Even though I’m not into the whole ‘immortalize my pet when they pass’ thing (shocking to those that know me), can I really fault someone who is?  Granted, people can take it to a whole new level when they turn their pet’s ashes into jewels or wear them around their neck as an ever-present symbol.

From the same website listed above.

From the same website listed above.

Ultimately, I think that it’s only a matter of time before this industry booms like the others do.  I know it’s big already, but I expect it to get bigger.  Right now, I can appreciate that it exists and appreciate the humble businesses out there that are seeking to commemorate the bond between people and their pets instead of exploiting it.

2 thoughts on “The Business of Death

  1. Hi Carol,

    Please don’t judge our whole industry by what the “big guys” do. I founded Best Friend Services in 2003 after my wife Tammy and I were unable to find a suitable memorial for our dog Bitsy. Like most people we knew nothing about pet memorials, pet urns, or the pet cremation process. After we finished grieving, we decided we wanted to help other in our situation. No “flashy” website, just a couple hard working people who care about what we do.

    Christopher “CJ” Johnson

    • CJ,

      Pleased to meet you! Thanks for the comment. I think that you mis-took the meaning of my article. I was commenting about how in the human world, dying was now a ‘business.’ In the pet world, I deeply respect those small businesses (like yourself) that are able to provide such a valuable resource (pet cremation) to pet owners. The owners of these small companies that provide cremations services are very passionate about being able to preserve the memory any way they can.

      My musing and end thought was merely that I hope the pet industry doesn’t start to mirror the human one since right now, for the most part, it still has humble roots.

      Keep up the good work!

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