Pet Memorials Are Way for Families to Say Goodbye

Robert Lamon

Photo by Linda Karn

(posted Apr 25)

Sensitivity and detail to service are the signature marks for Robert Lamon in his quest to provide meaningful closures for grieving pet owners. Lamon is one of a few licensed funeral directors that offers animal cremation and memorial services at Homeward Bound Pet Memorial Services, 3562 W 10th Street.

It's his intention to bring dignity and honor to the family pet and its interdependence that it played within the family.

Lamon decided to offer pet memorials after losing his own cat of 16 years. Lamon and his wife Wanda became frustrated with the long delays of receiving their cat's remains. Their pet meant more to them and the slow service seemed to trivialize the importance of their cat's life.

He said there not many alternatives for pets. That is why Lamon emphasizes the avoidance of using rendering facilities or other animal crematories that wait to dispose of the animals' bodies in quantity.

"No co-mingling" is Lamon's policy to assure pet owners that they receive only their pet's ashes. The final departure is not only limited to cremation, pets can be embalmed for a full service viewing. The facility has a special room dedicated for animal visitation by friends and family. "This is a rare choice," he said.

The most common method families choose is to have their pet cremated and then use the room for a special gathering to hold a memorial service. "The room is peaceful", with a mural of a wooded area that projects a tranquil path as if the owner could take his pet for a walk.

Lamon indicated that he is a funeral director, but that does not mean he dictates the funeral. He steps back to let the owner decide the best way to memorialize the pet. A wide range of merchandise is available to assist with preserving the memory of the beloved pet.

Cindy Fox, one of part-time four employees, said she had a dog that was well loved that died over 20 years ago. She said her friends and relatives still talk about the dog. If those services would have been then she would have used Lamon's service.

She thinks pet services are good educational tools to teach children about grief and death. Often times a child's first encounter with death is the loss of a pet.

Lamon said encourages people to come in and ask questions or visit the website at www.homewardboundpet.net, so they can be informed about the process.

He explained the facility can handle cremations up to animals weighing 3,500 pounds, noting that he has had services for llamas and horses.

Lamon also provides a valuable service to the community by caring for deceased indigent and homeless people. Lamon receives calls from the township trustee about an indigent or homeless person without next of kin needing to be buried, it is not unusual to have zero attendance at the funeral service. However, he keeps the ashes for 120 days to see if the remains are claimed before burial. It's more than likely that no one will claim the ashes if no one bothers to attend the funeral.

Fox shared her own experience of needing Lamon's services. She said the Perry Township Trustee's staff was so nice about the loss of her step brother and what to do. They recommended contacting Lamon.

She said that her step brother had no close relatives to handle the funeral expenses. "This was laid in my lap. I barely knew my step brother." Fox and her stepbrother were not raised in the same household.

Fox recognized Lamon's name from her school days at Washington High School where they both attended. "I also recalled hearing that Bob worked for local funeral homes in the area for over 20 years. I immediately felt comfortable and reassured when I saw his name." The two west-siders recalled the building's first use as England Cycle Sales. Lamon remembers walking there to "seeing the shining motorcycles."

Lamon said he took over the vacant building six years ago for remodeling into Homeward Bound Pet Memorial Services and Indiana Memorial and Cremation Services. He described the facility not as a Taj Mahal with a lot of frills, but as a "comfortable atmosphere" to say goodbye.