On Monday, just shy of his 15th birthday, Shari Collins's dog Murphy lost his battle with cancer.

"It's sad that you don't have more time with them because their time on Earth is short," said Collins, a Freehold Township resident.

But, with the help of a local business, Collins is certain her Dachshund will receive a proper sendoff.

A funeral for Murphy is scheduled for 2 p.m. Friday at Forever Remembered Pet Cremation & Memorial Services in Jackson. Collins, along with her son and other relatives, will be able to see Murphy one last time in the building's chapel and have the option to view the cremation that follows.

Collins made the same arrangements for Chewy, her 13-year-old Maltese that died in her arms last April due to complications from congestive heart failure.

"It was as beautiful as could be imagined," Collins said of the service.

According to Jennifer Steinman, owner of Forever Remembered, more families have been turning to her establishment and others in order to formally mark the end of their pets' lives.

Steinman's business performs three to four private cremations per day. The remains are typically placed in an urn, and families receive the remains within a day.

"I wanted everything to be the same for animals as it would be for humans," she said. "Sometimes you have to put your animal down and it's so sudden."

Service packages at Steinman's establishment would cost families $250 to $400 for a dog or cat. A "small animal package," priced at $125, is offered for services involving birds, rabbits, guinea pigs, snakes, turtles and other small pets.

In business for eight years, Pet Rest in Peace Memorial Center & Crematory in Secaucus has been counting on word of mouth to grow its customer base.

"We have families come all the time, seven days a week," said owner Caroline Larsen.

There, too, families are invited to be on site during the cremation, which typically lasts a couple hours.

"It's brought myself and my son an amazing amount of closure and fulfillment, on how our pets were treated at the end of their life," said Collins.

When she lost a dog many years ago, Collins said, the vet sent it out for cremation. She received remains in the mail weeks later. That process "seemed cold," and she didn't truly know whether it was her own dog's remains she'd been sent.

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Contact reporter Dino Flammia at dinoflammia@yahoo.com.

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