An animal hospital in central Illinois recently gave bereaved pet owners an opportunity to memorialize their beloved pets.
They gathered in Decatur Sunday to pray and share stories at the service held by Northgate Pet Clinic, the Decatur Herald and Review reported.
Veterinary assistant Angie Litz, who helped organize the ceremony, said there can be a stigma around grieving a pet.
"Everybody should take however long they need to grieve," said Becca Bebar, a technician at the animal hospital. "And we're here for you."
Macon County Court Security Officer Alan Engdale was there to remember Kid, a former K-9 officer who died in 2017. Engdale had previously scattered some of Kid's ashes in the clinic's Pet Memorial Garden.
He said pets not only become part of our lives, but parts of us too.
Laura Wade, who operates a dog rescue service, attended the ceremony, saying she's gone through the grieving process 16 times.
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"I think pets are here to teach us the purpose of unconditional love," Wade said. "And when that time comes (when they die) we are tested to see if we have learned what unconditional love means."
Dr. Larry Baker, who owns the clinic, said it doesn't get easier telling pet owners grim prognoses despite working as a vet for nearly half a century.
"A lot of people will say 'This is too hard, this is my last pet,'" Baker said. "And then, two months later, they get another one. You can never replace the one you had, but you learn to go on."
Information from: Herald & Review, http://www.herald-review.com