When a pet dies, compassion is needed

Written by Mike Siroky. Posted in Uncategorized

Published on November 23, 2011 with No Comments

A pet is often thought of as more than just an animal. It is a family member, often the other heartbeat in a room

So, when a pet reaches the end of its life, a much shorter lifespan than the humans in the family, the issue of a proper sendoff becomes a consideration.

The Burns family of Hobart and the Burns Funeral Home has been a community business for more than a century, with its fourth generation of service to the community now at work.

In 1976, said Jim Burns, they were first approached with helping grieving families and their pets; they readily agreed to help.

“Sure, it is an important service,” said Jim. “The reason I feel it is important is we are always involved giving back to community.”

“Plus when the community comes to you asking for services, if they know you on a personal basis, you just want to help.”

“The more personalized you can make a funeral service, the more of a celebration of life . . .  well, that’s the reason we have funerals, to celebrate a life.”

Pet services are among the “more and more things” Jim has initiated in the family devotion to his hometowns. The services are offered at “Burns Pet Remembered,” a pet crematory and cemetery.

“And there has been a large increase in cremations,” he said.

That naturally includes pet cremations.

The Burns crematory on Broadway in Crown Point has a separate crematorium for pets. “That’s only proper,” said Jim.

Other area funeral services usually opt to use a centralized pet crematorium, in a sense sending the job out to be handled.

Burns did not like that idea.

“When it comes to death and dying, everybody has their own personal views,” he said.

The public often comes to a funeral director to be educated.

“We were the first (to have pet services) in Northwest Indiana,” he said.

“I like to look at what we do for our families as a calling,” he said. His son Jimmy, with wife Michelle, his nephew, Patrick, with wife Heather, and Jim’s wife Sally are the core of the family tradition.

“We know how families are involved because we see it, because we are a family,” Jim said.

As an aside, when Jim was in college he had a room mate who knew nothing of the business, but, “He asked me all kinds of question and he’s a funeral director now. You never know how you’re going to affect somebody’s life.”

Sally has some concentration on the pet services. They have a private pet cemetery in Crown Point to go with the pet crematory.

“We had so many requests that we really started to focus on it in 1985,” she said.

“I had been kind of holding on this with Jim because we needed to have the money to do it right. We want to have a fair price.”

Their pet fees are based on the weight of the animals. Smaller pets have smaller fees. It extends the tradition of the personalized service they provide.

And there has been a nice side benefit. Oftentimes, because of the unique offerings of a pet service, they will meet families who then become clients for other family members.

“They look at how we handle it, it is more than a pet,” said Sally. “They look at the care and consideration we give them and, yes, that has led to more business.”

She said each case is different, as with the minister who did not want his pet cremated but was relieved to find the pet cemetery exists.

“It has been through word-of-mouth,” said Sally. “It has become quite popular. The minister was elated to find we have a burial spot.”

The Burns family is setting a standard as there are no rules no regulations for pet cremations or other services.

“But we know how families feel,” said Sally. “And that will always be our guide.”

For more information about Burns Funeral Home, call 219-942-1117.

For more information the Burns Funeral Home, Crown Point, call 219-769-0044.

Or visit burnsfuneralhome.com or www.burnspetsremembered.com

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About Mike Siroky

All opinions, conclusions or recommendations expressed in the above excellent column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Chronicle. Mike Siroky is a writer and editor. He is a native of Northwest Indiana. He has worked in media from coast to coast. To contact Mike, email mikel@the chronicleNWI.com

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