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April 9, 2014

'Funeral home for pets' gets planning board OK

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — A proposed pet memorial center and crematory has city Planning Board support, but the final decision on a special-use permit rests with the Common Council. 

Orleans County Coroner Scott Schmidt wants to open a “funeral home for pets” at 520 West Ave., the former Rodgers Welding Supply building. What he needs is that special-use permit and a $125 state DEC permit.

The idea is to give pet owners the opportunity to say goodbye and to cremate their beloved pets, Schmidt said.

The permit will need a public hearing, which the Council will hold at at 6 p.m. April 23 at City Hall. Schmidt has an agreement but needs to formally purchase the property, which also needs renovation. Schmidt plans to be open within a year.

Schmidt, a funeral director for more than 30 years in Albion, said he chose Lockport because it’s roughly equidistant between the two nearest pet cremation facilities, in West Seneca and Rochester. It’s been one of the fastest-growing parts of the funeral home business, Schmidt said.

And that’s because many consider pets as part of the family, he said.

“There’s considerable emotional and financial investment in a pet,” Schmidt told the board. “There’s a definite need for it.”

The pet memorial center could be open seven days a week, basically when the need arises, much like a funeral home. Schmidt said there will be no odor from the cremations. Pet owners will have the option of claiming the ashes, but if they don’t, the ash will be disposed of legally.

However, the Planning Board’s approval comes with conditions. Schmidt is not allowed to operate a pet cemetery and he must cremate only typical household pets, not larger animals such as horses.

He also has to install a barrier on the east side of the property.

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