After a year off, DeJohn Pet Services’ annual animal blessing and memorial service returned on October 10, as community members brought their furry friends to receive a minister’s blessing and honor others. deceased pets.
DeJohn Pet Services is located on the campus of DeJohn-Flynn-Mylott Funeral Home at 28890 Chardon Road in Willoughby Hills. The Department of Pet Services offers memorial, cremation and burial services for pets of all kinds.
According to Sherri DiPietro, director of DeJohn Pet Services, blessing animals has been an annual tradition for over a decade. This year, the outdoor service offered pet owners a chance to go out and have their pets receive a prayer of blessing from Eric Leissa, a pastor at Body of Christ Community Church in Willoughby.
“We are gathered here to thank our animal companions who are with us today,” Leissa told the crowd. “May we appreciate the warmth, humor and loyalty that touch our hearts in such incomparable ways. We come together today to ask for God’s grace as we care for our pets who sometimes struggle with disease or age.
Leissa and DiPietro read Bible scriptures related to animals, various memorial poems about pets, and the Fransiscan Blessing, inspired by Saint Francis of Assisi, patron saint of animals.
In addition to the blessings, participants were also able to honor the memory of beloved pets they had lost. DiPietro and his team wrote down the names of the deceased pets on a rainbow balloon, which was released at the end of the service.
Many animal relatives present at the service, such as Sue Handley-Stavar, had used DeJohn Pet Services in the past for memorial and burial or cremation services. Handley-Stavar said she appreciated all the personal touches that the staff at DeJohn Pet Services have given to the care of her beloved “dog of heart”, Cody, who passed away earlier this year.
DiPietro explained that DeJohn Pet Services was started in 2009 by CEO Ross DeJohn Jr., and that his own dog was one of the first pets to receive memorial services when the department was just starting to take off. DiPietro said she believes the idea of offering pet owners many of the same options human funerals have to take care of and commemorate their animals after they die is a much needed service.
“I was so inspired by the difference from traditional veterinary services for death, so I said ‘I want to work for you’,” she recalls.
Over the years, DiPietro has come up with many different souvenir ideas, including creating memorial videos, making clay or ink paw and nose prints, or creating furry angel wings. .
“I think of them as children – when I take care of someone’s baby, it’s a child in a fur coat,” she said.
Of course, services aren’t limited to dogs and cats – DiPietro said she also looks after birds, turtles and other less traditional pets. She said all kinds of pets are welcome and their services are all given a personal touch.
“The things we have here are a mirror image of the human side,” DiPietro said.