Is A Memorial Service For A Pet Appropriate?

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One of the biggest challenges when it comes to blogging three days per week is that there is a never-ending quest for interesting material. Fortunately I signed up for google alerts a long time, which makes things a little bit easier.

And thanks to google alerts, I recently came across a detailed article about a woman who arranged a full-blown memorial service — for her dog. Personally, I think it is completely over the top, if not a little bit crazy. But I will let you draw your own conclusions.

Rest in peace, Angus

As reported by the Associated Press, Suzanne Shaw organized the service for her rat terrier, Angus, when it became apparent that his time here was coming to an end. But it wasn’t easy. In fact, she couldn’t find a funeral home to accommodate her request until she contacted Michael Farrow at Mercadante Funeral Home & Chapel in Worcester, Massachusetts.

Eli, the In Brief Legal Writing Services mascot.
In Brief Legal Writing Services mascot Eli catching up on the latest news. Photo by Alexandra Bogdanovic

Farrow initially suggested an outdoor ceremony at a setting such as a park or Shaw’s backyard. But she made it clear that she had something else in mind — and Farrow decided to help.

“We talked and after a little while he started to work with me,” Shaw told the media.

In the end, Shaw, family, friends and even complete strangers honored Angus at a memorial service that included live bagpipe renditions of “Danny Boy,” and “Amazing Grace.” Rev. Bruce Plumley, who works at the funeral home, presided at the service.

“A pet is different for each and every one of us and holds a special place in our lives,” Plumley reportedly said during the service. “We often don’t realize until they are ill or gone just how much they had been loved and have given love to us. For many of us our pets are a treasure, and when we lose them, they have left a place that cannot be filled.”

Even so, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), says mourning the loss of the pet is a unique and personal experience that isn’t always understood.

“Some people still don’t understand how central animals can be in people’s lives, and a few may not get why you’re grieving over ‘just a pet,'” the HSUS says.

But Dr. Shaw (yes, she holds a Ph.D.) has a message for any “haters.”

“I didn’t have a Go Fund Me for this,” she told the media. “I’m paying for it and it’s what I want to do. They have their opinions, thank you, but they need to stay in their own lane. I do know that people might have a reaction to that but this is private … I’m burying my child, that’s what I’m doing.”

Tips for coping with the death of a pet

According to the HSUS, pet owners struggling to cope with the loss of a beloved companion animal may feel isolated and alone. However, the organization notes that there are “many forms of support.” These include counseling services, hotlines, local or online groups, books, videos, and magazine articles specifically devoted to helping people grieving the loss of a pet.

The HSUS also provides the following tips:

  • Acknowledge your grief and don’t be afraid to express it.
  • Don’t hesitate to reach out to others who can help.
  • Put your feelings in writing.
  • Ask your veterinarian or local humane society for information about local support groups or referrals to such groups.
  • Prepare a memorial for your pet.

You can learn more here.


Alexandra Bogdanovic is a paralegal and the owner/founder of In Brief Legal Writing Services. She is also an award-winning author and journalist whose interests include animal welfare and animal law. All opinions expressed in this forum are her own. Any information pertaining to legal matters is intended solely for general audiences and should not be regarded as legal advice.

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