Pet cemetery brings more comfort than chills for owner

·3 min read

Kent Simpson says even after 15 years, running a pet cemetery can be a little spooky at times, but the rewards far outweigh the occasional chill he gets when he hears the bushes rustling at night.

In fact, he said he finds the cemetery "calming," and it certainly brings comfort and closure to the pet owners.

There are about 40 pets buried at Angels Haven Pet Crematorium and Cemetery near Summerside, including dogs, cats, rabbits, rats and even budgie birds. Many of the graves are decorated and adorned with plaques.

"I just always felt that pets should be put to rest just so people know where they are and not just kind of disposed of," Simpson said.

Travis Kingdon/CBC
Travis Kingdon/CBC

He said many people, especially those who live in apartments or don't have their own land, will bury their pets at the cemetery. Others might keep the ashes in an urn or spread them in a flower bed or at the beach.

Either way, it's a sad time and he often feels his customers' pain.

"I've shed tears with them. They get me going, a lot of people are really emotional," he said.

"I've had people call me at night, older people and all they have left is their pet. Their kids are gone, their husband's died or something and they just want somebody to talk to."

Travis Kingdon/CBC
Travis Kingdon/CBC

Simpson, an animal lover who has three cats, two dogs and two horses, said some people visit their pet's grave regularly.

"There's a couple that bike out once in a while … and they take a little backpack and a couple sandwiches and a blanket and they'll sit there and just talk to their pet while they have a little snack."

Travis Kingdon/CBC
Travis Kingdon/CBC

Simpson said running a pet cemetery and crematorium may not be "everyone's cup of tea." It requires a licence that must be renewed every year.

Simpson builds small wooden caskets or supplies urns made out of wood or pottery by local artisans. He charges anywhere from $240 to $320 for cremation, depending on the weight of the animal.

There are a few other pet cemeteries and crematoriums on P.E.I., including Fond Memories and the Caledonia Pet Cemetery

"It's not really a business where you can just go take a course at university or something," Simpson said. "It's got to be something that's inside you."

Travis Kingdon/CBC
Travis Kingdon/CBC

And though author Stephen King's horror novel may have made pet cemeteries seem scarier than they are, Simpson said it can be a bit unsettling — especially if he has to bury a pet in the dark.

"It has been spooky sometimes. People will come in and put their pet in and I have to go back and cover it over after they leave.

"Sometimes it's later in the evening and, this time of year, I'm over there and you hear little things, rustling in the bushes, I get a little nervy myself, actually, sometimes."

Kent Simpson
Kent Simpson

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