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COOK- Locally renowned for her love of animals both domestic and exotic, Cook’s Country Connection owner Lois Pajari has recently extended that affection to those bereaved by the loss of a …
COOK- Locally renowned for her love of animals both domestic and exotic, Cook’s Country Connection owner Lois Pajari has recently extended that affection to those bereaved by the loss of a beloved animal by establishing Vermilion Pet Cremation, an animal crematory service.
It’s an idea that’s been years in the making, from the days when Pajari operated the Dollar Barn in downtown Cook.
“I met a gal who had moved to Cook who raised Corgis, and I love Corgis, so my first two dogs came from her,” Pajari said. “She also did pet cremation as a service. She cremated a miniature horse for me, she cremated a llama, she cremated a rabbit and my bird and dogs and cats. She had lived in Ashland, Wis., moved to Cook, and was doing the service here. Her circumstances changed and she move back to Ashland, but she continued servicing a couple of the clinics up this way. I told her ten years ago that it she ever wanted to get out of it it’s something I think I would like to do.”
Janelle Johnson has been making trips weekly from Ashland to veterinary clinics in Cook and Virginia to pick up animals whose owners wanted them to be cremated, Pajari said. But those frequent trips had become a challenge.
“It was getting harder for her to get from Ashland to northern Minnesota and back in a timely fashion, and she reached out and asked if I would like to take it over,” Pajari said. “I said absolutely. We drove to Ashland, and we saw her whole process and then went from there and decided yes, this is definitely a service we are okay with providing.”
Partnering with Allen Hoover, the pair purchased a diesel-fuel-fired cremator capable of handling an animal up to 500 lbs. from a family-owned company in Indiana and established a relationship with Vermilion Veterinary Clinic to offer the service. Individuals with a pet or livestock that dies at home can also contact Vermilion Pet Cremation directly.
One aspect of the service Pajari said she hadn’t fully considered when taking it on was the emotional investment she ends up having with her clients.
“People really love their pets and they grieve their loss,” she said. “It’s hard to be in that space with someone when they bring us their pet. I start crying, too. It brings back all of the pets that I’ve lost. We will take care of your pet every step of the way as if it was ours.”
But Pajari believes she’s in a unique position to help.
“I’ve got a reputation in the community as someone who cares for animals and who is trustworthy with animals, and I think that offers some comfort to someone when they’ve lost their pet,” she said. “They know it’s just not being blindly shipped off somewhere but it’s somebody that actually lives in the community whose caring for it and knows you and may have even met your pet before.”
It’s a very different scenario than with a clinic in Virginia that sends animals to a crematorium in the Twin Cities, she noted.
As the cremator will accommodate numerous smaller animals at one time, Pajari said a question she’s frequently asked is how people can be certain the cremains they get back are actually their pet.
“We use the same tags that cremation services use for humans,” she said. “It’s a stainless steel tag with a number on it that’s placed in the chamber with an animal. That tag stays with the animal through the entire process and is returned with the ashes to the customer.”
Keeping individual animal remains separated is referred to as segregated cremation, but multiple animals can be cremated together without having their ashes separated, too, which is a less costly option. Cremation charges are based on the weight of the animals involved.
An animal’s remains are returned to the owner in an attractive box-shaped metal urn.
“They’re really sweet metal tin urns that have a part of the quote from the ‘Rainbow Bridge,’ that poem about meeting your pet on the other side, that our pets wait for us to cross the Rainbow Bridge until we join them,” Pajari said. “They’ve got paw prints and part of that poem on them.”
For people who would like to have something more elaborate, there are plenty of options available online, Pajari noted, from customized urns to jewelry made to hold a portion of ashes. Cremains can now be incorporated into a variety of unique products as well.
Pajari said that veterinarians often used to provide cremation services themselves, but more and more have been turning to outside services like hers as demand for their regular medical services has grown.
Pajari said demand for the service has varied, with some months really busy and others not so much, but she said they’re performing cremations weekly, on average.
“We’ve had some unusual pets,” she said. “We’ve done a goat, we’ve had a pet pig, we’ve had a parrot, a rabbit, and a tortoise. So yes, we can do anything.”
Pajari said they hope to add a cremator that will accommodate large animals, like horses, in the future.
For more information, Vermilion Pet Cremation has a website, https://vermilionpetcremation.com/, and a Facebook page, and inquiries can be made by calling 218-780-8069 or sending an email to VermilionPetCremation@gmail.com.
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