Hearing about the new pet catacomb to be built in North Beach got us thinking about the dilemma of dealing with deceased animal companions in this town. What really happens to Fluffy after he takes his last breath? We're not six anymore—we've established that he's not living on a farm upstate. But without a suburban backyard to accommodate a burial, what's a city dweller to do? Here’s a rundown of your options for the awkward—but inevitable—last rites:
Contact your Vet
Probably the most obvious answer to your problem. Most animal doctors can arrange for pets to be cremated. Just bring what remains of Mr. Snickers in and they’ll take care of the rest. For example, San Francisco Veterinary Services (600 Alabama St, at 18th St, 415-401-9200) has a partnership with Animal Memorial Service (8860 Muraoka Dr., Gilroy, Ca, 832-724-8072). You can either pay for a private cremation and receive your animal’s ashes in an urn, or opt for a communal cremation for a discounted price. If Rufus the Tortoise is communally cremated, Animal Memorial Service has a place where they spread the ashes in the Santa Cruz Mountains. So at least Rufus will have some nice real estate.
Dial a Pet Crematorium/Pet Cemetery
These are the folks you would contact directly instead of going through your vet. Places like Pets Rest (1905 Hillside Blvd, Colma, CA, 650-755-2201) will cremate Cuddles and lay her ashes in an engraved urn, with prices ranging according to pet size, from $130 to $245. For an added fee they will even come and pick up Cuddles for you. Or you can have her buried in the pet cemetery and pay respects whenever you want.
Pony Up for North Beach Pet Columbarium
The National Shrine of Saint Francis of Assisi—the patron saint of animals, natch—in North Beach (610 Vallejo St, at Grant Ave, 415-986-4557) plans to build the first pet catacomb ever seen in San Francisco. It should be finished by next spring and will be housed underneath the church's staircase. If Hamster Pablo were religious, he'd be at peace here.
Invest in a Water Burial
The pirate's preference. According the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's regulations, burials at sea are a viable option—for humans that is. We figure, but don't cite us in court, that if you follow the same guidelines, your animal companion could swim with the fishes forever. Popeye the Pug always was a good swimmer. If you aren't captain of your own ship, there are charter services, like SF Bay Adventures (1001 Bridgeway Suite B2A, Sausalito, CA, 415-331-0444), which offer ships for sea burial and ash scattering. They normally deal with human remains, but ask nicely and see what happens.
Sneak in a Secret Burial
Definitely not something we're endorsing, but there is the option of bagging your pet and finding a hidden spot in a park. After researching online, we discovered people advising grieving owners to sneak past park patrol or even use the backyard of a house that’s up for sale. How many of these secret burials actually take place is yet to be discovered, but Miss Muffin always did love Golden Gate Park in her lifetime.
Lean on SF SPCA
Aside from the physical endeavor of dealing with a deceased pet, there's also the emotional trauma. Chew-Barka was once your best friend and it's going to take a little time to recover from your loss. If that's the case, the SPCA (201 Alabama St, at 15th St, 415-554-3000) provides pet loss support groups for all those in need during the grieving process.
Flush your Fish
Let's get real. The quickest and easiest way to deal with the death of a Nemo is to sacrifice him to the porcelain god. Something about the waterway exit seems appropriate, and you could even say a few words round the bowl before pulling the trigger. Trouble is, this method is not going to work with anything larger than a guppy.
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