If there was ever a project to affirm the bond between people and pets, it’s the latest partnership between West Laurel Hill Cemetery and the Women’s Animal Center. Both nonprofits are celebrating their 150th anniversaries this year, and each shares a distinct mission to serve both two- and four-legged family members. “It’s a bond that doesn’t end, and so it’s also celebrated in death,” says Gwen Kaminski, director of development and marketing at the Women’s Animal Center.
The nation’s first animal shelter, WAC has spawned 3,500 kindred shelters and rescues nationwide. It’s now partnering with the Laurels pet cemetery and center, which opened a year ago this June. Just off Righter’s Ferry Road in Lower Merion Township, the Laurels provides space for pet owners to meet with funeral planners, and there’s a room for private visitation and receptions.
A new onsite service offers a water-based alternative to traditional flame-based cremation. Whereas cremation lasts a few hours, aquamation (alkaline hydrolysis) is an 18-20-hour process. WLHC’s first subject was a pet alligator, and the cemetery has had 15 burials since last June. Seven states have approved aquamation for humans—though not Pennsylvania. “We’re working to change that,” says Deborah Cassidy, director of sales, marketing and family services at WLHC.
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