Pets are often thought of as members of the family, and a new Minot business is offering owners a way to keep their memories alive long after the pets are gone.
Forget-Me-Not Pet Crematorium was started by four pet lovers as a way to offer pet owners a wide array of options to quickly bring closure after a pet's death. The business owners, parents Laddie and DeEtt Long, daughter Tiffany Long, and family friend Shannon Brown, opened their doors May 3.
Laddie Long said most of the work they have received so far has come directly through veterinary clinics and hospitals, but they will also drive to a pet owner's home for retrieval. In addition, they are also working with out-of-town clinics in places like Cando, Bottineau and Beulah.
At the moment they work by appointment only, and will do everything they can to work with a pet owner's busy schedule.
"Whenever they can bust loose from whatever it is that they're doing, we'll have somebody here to meet them," Laddie Long said.
Tiffany Long said they offer individual or group cremation. The group cremation option is for a mass of animals the owner doesn't want to receive the ashes from, while the ashes are returned to the owner for individual cremations. Owners also have the option of purchasing an urn, of which the business has many different types and styles. Engraving is also available on the urns.
Owners who didn't have their pets cremated at Forget-Me-Not Pet Crematorium are also welcome to buy an urn.
Another option for storing a beloved pet's remains is jewelry. There are jewelry pieces that can hold a sample of the ashes, and the business also works with two artists who actually incorporate some of the ashes into the jewelry itself. Tiffany Long noted if an owner doesn't feel comfortable personally putting some ashes into a piece of jewelry, they are more than happy to do that task.
"And if the owners so choose, we can put some of the ash in the jewelry also," Tiffany Long said. "A lot of people don't want to look at it, deal with it. So we'll do that."
Forget-Me-Not Pet Crematorium also offers a videography service. This gives the owner a video of their pet throughout the cremation process from beginning to end so they can be assured it's actually their pet's ashes they have.
"A lot of people want to know for sure that's their pet that's in there. It's kind of, what happens behind closed doors, nobody really knows," Tiffany Long said. "But this is one way to ensure that that is their pet that's in there."
They will even work with special requests from pet owners, such as when one man asked to stay with his dog throughout the entire process so he knew it was his pet's remains he was receiving.
Another measure they take is issuing each animal a numbered, stainless steel tag to help with identification throughout the process.
"That number follows that pet wherever it goes," Tiffany Long said.
The business is just getting going, so Tiffany Long still keeps her longtime job at a local veterinary clinic. She said there was a huge need for pet cremation in the Minot area, which was one of the reasons she started the business.
"Cremation anymore is the thing to do. A lot of people don't want to bury or end up with their pet at the landfill," Long said. "They want their pet with them."
All four owners are permitted by the state health department to run the lone incinerator, and they said if there is demand they will add more incinerators in the future to ensure they don't fall behind and force families to wait before receiving back a pet's ashes.
Tiffany Long noted they pride themselves on a fast turnaround for pet owners so closure can be achieved more quickly.
"Our big thing is we want people to have closure in less than a week. Most of the time it's two to three days, and we can get the remains back to the owner. And that's big for these families to get closure," Tiffany Long said. "If you have little kids, it's really important for them to get their pet back to them."
"With the moving around that people do, a lot of them want to have their pets with them. And by burying them and leaving town, their pets aren't with them," DeEtt Long added. "Pets follow this way."
Tiffany Long noted that with Minot being a military town, being able to take a pet's ashes with them is a huge deal for airmen when they are deployed elsewhere.
To offer that quick service, Laddie Long said Forget-Me-Not Pet Crematorium keeps a large supply of urns in stock at all times so pet owners don't have to wait for something to be ordered. Tiffany Long said their quick service and attention to detail has not gone unnoticed by pet owners they have worked with.
"In a month we've already gotten thank yous and pictures. People are very appreciative, really. And it's kind of fun to listen to them as they walk in the door. They're not expecting a nice atmosphere," Tiffany Long said. "I don't know what they're expecting, honestly. But everybody's been very complimentary, I think."
She talked about a cremation they did for a military dog that saved a man's life twice in Iraq. The dog had to be put to sleep, and the family was extremely grateful that the pet could be brought with them wherever they go. After all, no one wants to leave family behind.
"They were just so glad that we were able to do that. ... They were glad to have that option instead of just leaving that pet here," Tiffany Long said.