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What Should I Do with My Dead Dog?

Alexandra Manno was 16 when her boyfriend at the time gave her a surprise gift: a dog, which she named Calle. A pit bull mix that appeared to have some Australian cattle dog in her bloodline, Calle slept with Ms. Manno every night, moving with her from North Carolina to the Seattle area, where she now works as a public defender."She's been with me through college, law school, all my boyfriends," said Ms. Manno, now 31. In short, nobody in Ms. Manno's life bore such intimate witness to her path to adulthood and self-sufficiency. So last year, when it became apparent that Calle was sick and needed to be put down, a tearful adieu at the veterinarian's office wouldn't quite cut it.A friend of Ms. Manno's told her about a pet funeral home in West Seattle called Resting Waters, opened in December 2016 in a low-slung brown building across from a popular deli by Joslin Roth, 39, and Darci Bernard, 34, who are sisters.Its name succinctly describes the process, known as alkaline hydrolysis (or aquamation), by which it puts pets to rest.Aquamation is a water-based alternative to flame-based cremation. An animal's corpse is placed in a nylon bag, followed by a multi-partition metal contraption ("like Tetris," Ms. Bernard said) and then a tank filled with heated water, potassium hydroxide and occasionally sodium, which breaks down tissue while preserving bones, microchips and the like. The process, which sounds and smells like a large-capacity dishwasher cycle, typically takes about 19 hours and usually involves the submersion of several pets at once. Resting Waters' aquamation machine can hold up to 400 pounds, while larger machines can accommodate 2,000-pound animals, including livestock. The bones are then dried in a closet with a dehumidifier, and delivered to pet owners in urns or whatever method they specify. The interior of Resting Waters is cleanly appointed, with paintings of animals gracing the walls. There are cozy pet beds arranged beneath a desk, and the music is meditative and relaxing. For a pet, it's like "you're going to your last spa day," said Rhonda Krider, 44, who had her dog, Hunter, laid to rest there.Like its counterparts on the human side of the death care industry, Resting Waters offers a range of after-life services, some of which it contracts out to third parties. If you want a locket of your pet's hair shorn and preserved, Resting Waters can handle that for you. If you want your pet groomed for a viewing or ceremony before it is placed in the tank, that can be arranged as well.Ms. Manno, who said, "I was just obsessed with my dog, I'd had her forever," made a slide show featuring portraits of Calle and eulogized her dog before several guests, who were treated to snacks and wine."After that, I taxidermed the paws," she said.And then there are the truly special requests."We had a woman come in and make us drink shots with her," said Ms. Roth, who, like her sister, eschews the Brylcreem and suits of traditional funeral directors for nose piercings and tattoos.Ms. Roth started Resting Waters after she came to the realization that, in Seattle, "you could do stand-up paddleboard yoga with your dog but couldn't visit a death care provider. With pet death care, you'd leave your pet at the vet and they'd literally dispose of them in garbage bags. It was like, 'Whoa, this was a need.'"After several decades as a television executive, Jerry Shevick came to a similar conclusion before opening Peaceful Pets Aquamation in Newbury Park, Calif., in 2013."We have six dogs and I did a pet show on TV once, so I knew from a population standpoint that this is an industry - the total pet space - that grows 3 to 4 percent every year, even through the last recession," said Mr. Shevick, 59. "A lot of the spending increases are about people wanting better and more services and options."Along these lines, Ms. Roth said, "these days, with veterinary care, we do for pets exactly what we do with humans."Ms. Bernard chimed in, "They put pacemakers in dogs." Mr. Shevick also extolled the virtues of aquamation as an environmentally friendly alternative to flame-based cremation. "People don't think about cremation like they do all the big carbon producers, but in actuality, it has a pretty significant footprint," he said. Conversely, he said that aquamation "really uses the same components that natural decomposition uses. With people paying attention to climate change, it's becoming more interesting to people as well."Indeed, California and Washington are among the nearly 20 states that have recently legalized aquamation as a means of dealing with human corpses. But unlike the heavily regulated human death care industry, the pet one "is the Wild West," said Ms. Roth, and thus far more lightly regulated. Occasionally, though, someone seeking to open an aquamation facility will have difficulty convincing wastewater-treatment officials that the process is sufficiently pure. Still, it's a lot easier to open an aquamation facility these days than a flame-based crematory.If you buy an aquamation machine in the United States, it will likely have been manufactured by Bio-Response Solutions, a small, family-owned company in Indiana. Samantha Sieber, 36, a founder and the vice president of research who also handles regulatory and legislative issues, estimates that the company has sold some 150 pet-aquamation machines throughout the United States. (Bio-Response Solutions also has several clients in Europe, where alkaline hydrolysis has been around a lot longer.)"A lot of my customers got turned down to put a crematorium in," Ms. Sieber said. "If they're in residential or downtown areas, they would never allow the emissions. The public perception of a smokestack and fire risk, they're not going to let that happen. You don't have any of that with alkaline hydrolysis."Why is it that the death of a pet often elicits a far more emotional response in a human than the death of a blood relative?"Relationships with pets are way less complicated," Ms. Bernard said. "Pets never really wrong you, and sleep at your feet every night.""If you're a single person, if you open your door, they're there," said Diane Dyer, who has conducted memorial celebrations at Resting Waters.A self-described tomboy who excelled at sports growing up in the Bay Area, Ms. Krider and her dog, Hunter, relocated to the Pacific Northwest when her marriage ended. She now works for Trupanion, a company providing insurance for dogs and cats, and moonlights as a high-school football referee.Hunter, an abandoned mutt of unknown genetic origin (possibly part chocolate Lab) that Ms. Krider had trained as a search-and-rescue dog, "got me out of bed every day after a divorce and helped me meet new people," she said.Ms. Krider's mother flew up from California for Hunter's memorial at Resting Waters. After the ceremony, Ms. Krider took Hunter's remains home in a bag, along with his paw print on a piece of plaster. Ms. Krider's cat, Ferris, had been in a major funk since his best canine friend died. But when Ms. Krider came home that day, Ferris "knew something was going on," she said. He began rubbing Hunter's remains incessantly, as if to say, "My brother's home."

What Should I Do with My Dead Dog? 1

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A former Simon Fraser University student who wasconvicted of torturing and killing animals andadmitted to wanting to kill homeless people has beenreleased from jailand willlive in Vancouver.Kayla Bourque, 23, was convicted in Novemberof causing unnecessary pain, suffering or injury to animals, wilfully and without lawful excuse killing animals, and possessing a weapon for a dangerous purpose. Child pornography charges she was facing were stayed.She was sentenced to one month in jail on each of the charges, but had already spent six months in custody by the time she was sentenced. The judge then ordered her to serve an addition two months in custody, in part so probation officials could prepare for her highly supervised release.The former SFU criminology student has admitted to taking delight in killing animals and fantasizing about shooting homeless people. Several psychologists who interviewed Bourque found she showed no remorse or insight into her crimes.On Monday morning, B.C.'s Ministry of Justice confirmedBourque was released on probation after serving just over sevenmonths in custody."Bourque has an escalating criminal history," said the public notification issued by theministry. "She has offended violently against both people and animals and is considered high risk to reoffend."She will be closely monitored by authorities and will have to abide by 46 court-ordered conditions that will severely restrict her movements and activities, said officials.Under the conditions, Bourque is not allowed to have anyone in her home from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m., and anyone who does visit must be made fully aware of the charges she pleaded guilty to and their circumstances.She can't associate with anyone under the age of 18 or access the internet. She is also banned from possessing duct tape, hypodermic needles or knives.Bourque is five feet four inches tall, weighs 130 pounds, and has black hair and brown eyes.One psychologist who spoke with Bourque ahead of her sentencing in Vancouver provincial court last year testified she will likely require supervision for the rest of her life.Other doctors described her as a sexual sadist and narcissist with an anti-social personality disorder and sociopathic tendencies."It is clear that Ms. Bourque is a very unique and troubling case," Judge Malcolm MacLean said last November as he delivered what he described as "probably one of the most comprehensive probation orders I've ever done."Adopted from a Romanian orphanage at the age of eight months, Bourque grew up in Prince George, B.C. While in high school, she admitted to having the urge to "kill someone," the judge said.After graduation, she enrolled in criminology and psychology at Simon Fraser University.While living in residence last March, she told another student she had disemboweled and dismembered cats in the Prince George area and that she fantasized about getting a gun and shooting a homeless person.She also said she wanted to kill someone in residence and was taking forensic classes because she wanted to "get away" with something in the future.The classmate told campus security, and police were alerted.Bourque was initially arrested under the Mental Health Act and a search of her residence turned up a blue nylon bag with a kitchen knife, a razor blade, three large garbage bags, a hypodermic needle and a mask.Police also found a video showing her killing the family dog. Another video showed Bourque torturing and killing the family cat.Bourque's mother has said she does not want her daughter living in the family home."While intelligent and articulate," MacLean said. "She had a preoccupation for causing pain."The probation order will be reviewedin three months.
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