Joe Vasquez was no stranger to pets. He had owned and lost dogs before. At the end of last year, one of his eight boxers died. A decade of ownership and loss came barreling his way. Vasquez wrestled emotionally and spiritually with trying pet cremation during the course of his grief.

You miss that love and affection, he said.

Through a series of confirming experiences as wellastalks with friends and his pastor he decided no more burials for his pets. He would move towards cremating his dog.

The first one I ever was in December, said Vasquez. I hadanother one of my babies to pass away a month ago. I had her cremated as well.

Bluebonnet Pet Crematory ofConverse handled the cremation. They've been in business since the 1990's.

When that pet passes away it's likea piece of you that's dieing with it, said Bluebonnet Pet Crematorium's Stacy Schaefer.

Schaefer said that it's okay to have a pet cremated because they are just like family. Respectfully reducing animals to ashes is not just her business Schaefer's German Shepherd, Max, was cremated too.

He was handled in such a beautiful touching manner, she said.

Cremations are priced according to the pet's size and choice of urn. Theprocess is reportedly simple.

Schaefer said they receive calls from veterinarians who call them to pick up deceased animals. They also pick up pets from private residences too. The corpse is immediately tagged and returned to theirlocation in Converse. The dead pet is put into a freezer until the actual cremation. When that occurs the cremation chamber is heated to 1675 degrees. The fire comes from the top and the bottom of the chamber.

The ashy remains are sorted for debris and ground into fine dust. That's what's put into the urn.

Vasquez said he had his pets in urns next to St. Francis of Assisi the patron of animals and ecology. However, not everyhas this as an option. According to the crematorium, many of them end up inlandfill.

Back in theearly 90's, the veterinariansdidn't have much of a choice but to send the pets off to the landfill, Schaefer said. If the owner didn't want theirpet back.

Now, there are optionsfor all kinds of pets. Schaefer said they've cremated everything from a turtle to a Bengal tiger. They also do cremations for military dogs, K-9 officers, and working dogs.Those are donefreeof charge.

I just see itas a real humane thing that needs to be done for our pets, said Schaefer.

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