Pets funeral home

VIDEO: New Ipswich business cremating your pets

THE generation-old tradition of digging a hole in the backyard to bury Muffy, Nibbles or Scruffy is fast being replaced with a more human approach to sending off the beloved family pet.

Pet crematoriums and funeral homes are the new backyard graves as families turn to businesses like Pets in Peace at West Ipswich to have their pet kept forever in an urn on the mantle.

It's not just for cats and dogs either - pet cremators can handle animals up to 100kg including everything from mice, snakes and birds to alpacas, llamas, pigs and miniature horses.

Pets in Peace owner Martin Hopp said Ipswich families' demand to have their pets cremated was rapidly increasing.

PET FUNERAL: Pets in Peace owner Martin Hopp, pictured with Joanna Hopp, has brought the family-owned pet crematorium business to Ipswich.
PET FUNERAL: Pets in Peace owner Martin Hopp, pictured with Joanna Hopp, has brought the family-owned pet crematorium business to Ipswich. David Nielsen


"When I first started some 18 years ago, vets were laughing at me but now it's a big part of peoples' lives. We go to people's houses and return ashes and there are shrines to other pets in their house," she said.

"Now they've got somewhere they can come and have a funeral service or a viewing of their pets of they wish.

"In the early days I would return ashes home to their families and I knew they wanted their baby cremated but I also knew when I left they would hide their ashes under the bed so nobody would laugh at them, but now it's the norm.

"When their pets pass away their neighbours and family asked if they had Muffy cremated because it's the norm. They're our children and they want to look after them the same way."

The family-owned and run business has been meeting the demands of pet owners in other parts of south east Queensland since 1999 but opened their doors in Ipswich for the first time this week.

The site is the first of its kind where families can host a funeral for their pet.

"My wife and I were both human funeral directors and decided we wanted to help pets out in doing the same sort of thing," Mr Hopp said.

"Ipswich and the whole western corridor is a growing area so for a few years now our plan has been coming to Ipswich.

"It will be the first of our sites that have a true chapel if families want to do a funeral service. That's not the norm at the moment but I think there's a lot of families who want to.

"Ipswich is the first time we have tired that but everything else, the mortuary, the viewing room, is the same but this one will have the very first pet chapel and probably the very first one in south east Queensland."

How does a pet mortuary differ from a human mortuary?

A PET mortuary works in the same way as a human mortuary, the only difference is pet cremators can accommodate animals up to 100kgs.

Pets in Peace owner Martin Hopp said the business could collect animals from their home or the vet.

"We have ambulance stretchers for bigger babies or little baskets for little ones," he said.

"We transfer the pet exactly the same way mum or grandma would be transported from home, we look after the same way and our mortuary facilities are exactly the same. They're our children whether they've got too legs or four legs we look after them the same way. 

"We try very hard to be the same as a human crematorium, we look after their babies as if they were standing beside them.

"When their pets die it's like their baby is dying."

He said the service was available to all kinds of animals.

"All dogs and cats are not a problem in the world but we do everything from mice right through to alpacas, we even did a pig. We do miniature horses, llamas and everything up to 100kgs," Mr Hopp said.

"It's very interesting but the smaller ones are interesting too, the snakes, the birds, the budgies and rabbits.

"Our industry is cremating their babies but it's also helping them through their grief.

"It's beautiful. When I did human funerals, you could always see that reality and closure set in. I find when we return the ashes home, that closure is there as well. It helps them know that they've looked after their family member."