Pet crematorium

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NORWAY – A local woman is hoping to set up a pet crematorium at her home to ease a pet’s transition from life to death and to help with the pet owner’s bereavement, she said.

“I’m there to see your animal is given the final moments it deserves,” Tara Shepherd said Wednesday. “Just because it’s dead, it doesn’t deserve to be ignored or thrown into the trash; it’s your baby, and now it’s my baby.”

Shepherd invested in a $34,000 crematorium that can handle pets up to 200 pounds. She will put the 10,000-pound crematorium in her barn at 114 Thomas Hill Road and name the business Journey’s End.

The business requires permits from the town and the Maine Department of Environmental Protection, which controls air emission licenses. A fire marshal, too, has to check the property.

“There is no noise, no odor,” she said. “The only noise you’ll hear is a hum.”

For pet owners, she’ll place a silk-screen divider with a rainbow on it around the oven and invite them to place mementos of their pets on it. The rainbow is meant to symbolize the bridge animals cross to a pet heaven.

Once the business is up and running, Shepherd said she can handle about 10 pets a day, because it takes about an hour to burn down a 75-pound body.

She will accept any pet as large as a Great Dane and as small as a snake or hamster. She hopes to service veterinarians and pet owners.

She will offer wooden containers for the animal’s ashes, with the option of engraving a pet’s name on it or adding a photograph. And for an extra fee she will pick up the pet’s carcass and deliver the ashes after the procedure.

Shepherd, a single mother who works at McDonald’s in Paris, said she moved from Connecticut a couple of years ago, and when she did, she and her 8-year-old daughter, Aisling, dug up the small caskets of two buried cats.

“We couldn’t leave them,” she said.

When she lived in Connecticut, she drove school buses and also raised and rehabilitated rowdy pit bulls that were damaged and scarred from abuse.

She shares her Norway home with her daughter’s eight sled dogs, a pit bill, a ferret and cats and said that because she’s always had animals around, she’s accustomed to coping with their deaths.

“We’re here to help you get through it,” she said.

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