Erich Schepp and his wife Chelsea pose with their two dogs; Loki, a 15-week-old Labrador Retriever and Tonka, a 5-year-old Keita Husky mix. “I’m a pet owner myself and I believe in this,” Schepp said of his idea to venture into the pet cremation business.
Minoa Schepp Family Funeral Homes is going to the dogs – and cats, and rabbits, and gerbils, for that matter.
On April 28, the long-time Central New York funeral home received approval from the Manlius Planning Board to construct a pet crematorium on Kirkville Road, just around the corner from Schepp Family Funeral Homes’ facility in Minoa.
“Pets are our family members – why should they be treated any differently than humans?” said Erich Schepp, who manages all three funeral home locations in Fayetteville, Manlius and Minoa. “So many younger people are having pets instead of kids, and so many older people are having pets because their kids are gone. They’re family members too – people treat them just as well, if not better than some of their human family members.”
A growing market
There are about 70 million dogs and 74 million cats in the country, according to the U.S. Pet Ownership & Demographics Sourcebook. And in 2011, 63.2 percent of owners considered them to be family members.
The Cremation Association of North America calls the market for the memorialization of pets “one of the fastest growing deathcare markets in the United States and Canada” because more and more funeral home owners are expanding their businesses to include services for pets.
Schepp said he’s been researching the topic extensively and believes there’s a market for this in Central New York.
“Just getting through that threshold, that’s [the hard part] – it’s such a unique and different idea that really isn’t happening around here now,” he said.
How it works
In Central New York, vets are typically responsible for euthanizing many of the pets that pass away today. Once an animal has died, it is kept in a freezer at the veterinary hospital for three or four days, when it is picked up and brought across the county to be cremated, Schepp said.