Pet compost can be a living memory of your best friend
YES, OF course, all dogs go to heaven. Their bodies, however, are another matter. And when dealing with those, pet owners have options aplenty: Cremation, burial at a pet cemetery, taxidermy, even freeze-drying or turning their ashes into synthetic diamonds.
Now comes another: Composting. A start-up in Washington state, Rooted Pet, says its new service is something the “pet aftercare space” has been lacking – and one owners can feel good about.
Letting kitty decompose in a mixture of organic matter uses less energy than firing up a cremation oven, requires less land than a graveyard and is a poignant, dustto-dust type of process, general manager Paul Tschetter says.
With cremation, “you’re quite literally vaporising the soft tissues… it’s pulverised and put in a cute box and given back”, said Tschetter, whose firm is located outside Olympia, Washington. “I feel like we’re adding more meaning back into this whole death process.”
This could be a mental hurdle for many grieving pet owners, but Tschetter is probably on to something. The $67 billion (R960bn) pet industry includes a growing aftercare segment catering to owners who, after spending lots keeping animals they consider family members happy and alive, are willing to go to extra lengths when the pets die. More than 700 pet cemeteries and crematoriums in the US are one testament to the demand.
Tschetter describes himself as a “serial entrepreneur,” who, along with a friend who had years of experience in waste management and composting, realised a few years ago that there might be room for new ideas in this market.
Composting animal carcasses, they knew, is far from unusual – it’s the method many farms use to dispose of deceased livestock, and it’s how some states now contend with road kill.
Donated farm animals, as well as some collected road kill, were what Rooted used as “test subjects” for their composting system, said Tschetter. The system is based at his business partner’s farm, but it’s all indoors, which helps the company avoid some regulatory hurdles that would come along with composting bodies outside. Pet carcasses are placed in boxlike “pods” with wood chips and other organic matter, Tschetter said. Six to eight weeks later, the cocktail has morphed into rich soil that looks, smells and feels like any other compost, he said.
“We’re literally taking what happens in nature and speeding it up,” he said, referring to the decomposition that would occur if you buried your pooch in the backyard (which many jurisdictions do not allow).
But, he acknowledged, “it’s a newer thing and it’s going to weird some people out”.
People who decide composting their dead pet is right for them can choose from several end products.
Let Rooted keep the compost and it will use it on its farm or on a tree-planting project.
Get your composted pet back (alone or, for a lower price, mixed with other pets), and you can use it to nourish a new tree in your yard.
If that seems a bit too hands-on, Rooted can send you a house plant growing in compost created from your beloved animal’s remains.
It would be, Tschetter said, a “living memorial”. – The Washington Post
Rooted Pet composts dead pets at its farm in Washington state.