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Pet burials range from bottom of sea to sky above

Published May 28, 2014 2:23 pm

Goodbye • If backyard won't do, how about cremation, pet cemetery or helium balloon?
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Los Angeles • People saying goodbye to a beloved cat or dog can do it in style, sending their pet's remains to the bottom of the sea or letting them fly high into the sky.

But most pet owners — an estimated 70 percent — will go the routine route, leaving the body with their veterinarian, said Bonnie Beaver, a professor at Texas A&M University's College of Veterinary Medicine and executive director of the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists.

She says taking a pet's body home for burial is the next most popular method, followed by cremation.

But if backyard burial isn't special enough, Fido or Fluffy can always be close if you turn their ashes into a gemstone.

Here are some of the many ways to bid adieu to your furry friend:

Backyard • More pets are buried in backyards than anywhere else. It's free, 100 percent green, you can visit anytime, and goodbyes can be as simple or as fancy as mourners want. But it is illegal in many places. Los Angeles, for example, bans the burial of any animal or fowl except in an established cemetery.

Pet cemetery • Includes a plot of ground or mausoleum space. You can buy a headstone or plaque. Cemetery burial can cost several hundred to several thousand dollars depending on size, location, grave marker, type of casket or cremation, urn and other costs.

Cremation • Costs vary depending on location, pet size and extras. The Caring Pet Crematory in Sacramento charges $140 for a pet under 20 pounds and $275 for a pet from 151 to 200 pounds. If the family wants to watch the cremation, it costs $50, but not every crematory allows witnesses, crematory operator Alex Gordon said. Caring Pet normally scatters remains in the forest. For $125, the company also will scatter remains off the coast of San Francisco by plane. Urns also vary in cost.

Aquamation • This method is similar to cremation, but it's done with water-based technology that leaves pure ash reminiscent of powdery beach sand, said Jerry Shevick, CEO of Peaceful Pets Aquamation Inc. in Newbury Park. The process is legal for humans in seven states and legal for pets in every state. But in New York, it can be performed only by a veterinarian. The green, 20-minute process ranges from $75 to $350 depending on size.

Life Gem Diamonds • LifeGem is a 13-year-old company in Elk Grove Village, Ill., that turns strands of hair or remains of a pet (or person) into a colorless, blue, red, yellow or green diamond that costs from $1,999 to $24,999.

Balloon lift • The Eternal Ascent Society in Newport Richey, Fla., will send your pet's remains to the heavens, said Joanie West, who has owned the company for 16 years. She puts remains (pet or person) in a 5-foot round balloon, adds helium and releases it at a tree- and wire-free location the family chooses. The balloons come in red, yellow, green and blue. Families usually choose a service with music, gifts and remembrances. They can let the balloons go. Five miles up, where it is 40 degrees, the balloon fractures and heaves the remains upward. Balloons start at $399. There are added costs for larger balloons, a videotape or special container.

Burial at sea • Ashes on the Sea, which serves California and Hawaii, will scatter a pet's ashes at sea for $250 to $350, said Capt. Ken Shortridge. Families can watch from boat or shore and there are several ceremonies to choose from. Ashes can be placed in a wicker basket lined with tea leaves, covered with rose petals and set on the water. When flipped, it makes a beautiful ash cloud and you can watch them flow to the bottom of the sea.