End of Life Options

The idea of taxidermy had intrigued me for many years before I ever considered it as a real option for any pet I owned. But I didn’t even know what that process entailed until I finally took the step to look it up when I realized Jessi’s departure from this earth might actually be drawing close. When I discovered what taxidermy really is, I was literally HORRIFIED. To remove my cat’s skin and create a cast of her body and reskin that was extremely distasteful to me. I would never do that to my beloved animal!!!! But in the process of looking up taxidermy, I discovered freeze-drying. Though it is a “field of” taxidermy, it feels nothing like it to me, as it keeps your animal’s body intact. Here was a comforting option for me. I had personally never connected to the idea of cremation, and burial wasn’t even something I could consider, as I rent my home, and I was not even aware at the time of pet cemeteries and funeral homes. But I know that even if I had been aware of that option, I would still have chosen freeze-drying. Even though this process takes a period of several months, I am willing to wait to have my beloved Jessi back. While some people may feel they need closure sooner than that and don’t want to revisit the pain when the non-living animal returns to them, I have never regretted my decision for a moment. I look so forward to the day when I see her again, and cry and grieve anew, while at the same time rejoice at having her precious form back with me forever.


Freeze-drying is a highly specialized field of taxidermy, but the process is completely different. Traditional taxidermy actually removes the skin of the animal, makes a mannequin of the animal’s body from wood, wool and wire, or a polyurethane form, and then re-skins the casting.

By contrast, freeze-drying is a process by which moisture is removed from the animal while it remains frozen, using special freeze-dry machines. Unlike traditional taxidermy, this process leaves your pet’s actual body and bone structure in place. (All organs except the heart are removed). For this reason, the finished product has the look, feel, and essence of your own pet, rather than that of a sterile wall trophy.


Cremation is a very widely used practice for the treatment of a pet’s remains, and one that allows you to feel that you have your pet with you. Many different styles and themes of urns are available. From a simple “picture box”, to classic vase types, to those that double as a brass figurine, there are plenty of styles to suit your needs and taste. There is even what can be called “urn” or “cremation jewelry” that is available online to keep a portion of your pet’s ashes with you always. You can find websites that offer these products with a quick Google search. There are several crematories in Jacksonville. Here are the links for a few of them. These places also offer many different styles of classy and elegant urns or gravestones for purchase, and some even provide memorial services for your pet.

Check with your veterinarian on their procedures for cremation. More than likely, they will not offer private cremation in which they could provide you with your pet’s ashes. An exception to this is Lap of Love Veterinary Hospice which provides in-home, end-of-life care as well as in-home euthanasia. They do provide private cremation as an option, returning your pets ashes to you.

Lap of Love Veterinary Hospice. There are several of these specialized vets throughout Florida, and many more throughout the country as well. Those in Florida include, Jacksonville, St. Augustine, Gainesville, Palm Beach and South Martin Counties, Orlando, Tampa/St. Petersburg, Broward County, and Miami Dade County. In addition to in-home hospice and euthanasia, Lap of Love also provides private or communal cremation or burial. www.lapoflove.com/jacksonville

Paw Prints Pet Crematory. Offers private or communal cremation. Also carries a large selection of urns as well as other memorial products. Local to Jacksonville. www.pawprintspetcrematory.com

Perfect Memorials and Jewelry Keepsakes. Here are two wonderful sites that offers not only cremation jewelry, but also a large selection of urns, grave markers, and other memorial products. www.perfectmemorials.com


For people that own their own homes, burial is often the option chosen at the end of a pet’s life, with their own backyard being a peaceful resting place. When that is not an option, there are pet funeral homes that offer this service at their own pet cemeteries.