Pet owners will soon be able to have their non-human companions cremated at Memorial Park Funeral Home in Gainesville.
After hundreds of requests from the community, Memorial Park owner Jack Frost decided to add the service as the funeral home expanded its cremation capabilities in a new 3,200-square-foot building.
Pets can be remembered in the 1,000 niches visible from the outside of the building, and people can be remembered in 800 indoor backlit, glass-front niches.
Though demand will likely be highest for dogs and cats, Scott Wiley, vice president of operations at Memorial Park, said the funeral home will try to accommodate any animals that fit in their equipment.
Frost said he expects the facility to be open by mid-March.
Frost said this will be the first pet crematory that is part of a funeral home in Northeast Georgia, and possibly in the whole state.
A chapel with couches will be available for visitations or funeral services, and the funeral home has a screen in the room to display slide shows of both people and pets. Memorial Park will send home a DVD of the tribute with families.
“It’s going to be such a nice, well-appointmented meeting place for loved ones to reflect on the life of their loved one,” Wiley said.
The $600,000 expansion also includes offices where loved ones can meet with a funeral director to make arrangements.
A window in the chapel will allow people to see the cremation process of their loved ones if desired.
Family members would be able to visit the cremation chapel any time a visitation or service isn’t in progress.
Frost said cremation accounts for about 25 percent of services handled at the Memorial Park funeral home and between 30 and 35 percent in Hall County. He added those percentages have been steady after a large spike in cremations about 10 years ago.