How a former funeral pro is applying her human end-of-life expertise to the final care of Charlotte pets

How a former funeral pro is applying her human end-of-life expertise to the final care of Charlotte pets
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Nobody wants to think about losing their pet.

But the truth is, someday, whether it’s today or twenty-five years from now, your pet’s last day will come. And when it does, you need to be prepared.

Christine Hunsaker was not prepared. And this is the main reason she opened Paws, Whiskers & Wags, Your Pet Crematory.

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It all started when Christine (right) and her partner lost their beloved dog, Casey. Casey was a part of their family and they wanted to have him cremated.

When they called their local pet crematory, the business didn’t want them to come over and said, “just put your dog in trash bag and we’ll get to him on Thursday.”

It was Sunday. They then told Christine that they’d cremate Casey and get back to her “in a few weeks or so.”

Christine was shocked. After growing up in a funeral home and working in the funeral and cremation business for 20 years, she knew this was unacceptable.

“I could cremate you and get you back to your loved ones this afternoon,” she told me. “Why can’t my pet have the same care?”

The answer? The pet cremation world, unlike the human cremation world, is widely unregulated.

So Christine, being the badass that she is, immediately set her plan in motion.

She used her human end-of-life expertise and applied it to pets. That’s when Paws, Whiskers & Wags was born.

She sums it up like this: “If 400,000 people can trust their grandma to me, I’m sure I can help people with their four legged loved ones.”

You may have driven by Paws, Whiskers & Wags on South Tryon Street across from Brookhill Village.

I know I do almost every day, and to be honest, it used to make me sad. At times I even tried not to look at it.

But what I didn’t know was how important this crematory is to the pet owners of Charlotte, and how it can make the passing of our pets a lot easier.

How do they make it easier? I took a tour of Paws, Whiskers & Wags with Charlotte manager Henry Houston and here’s just a few ways:

1. Paws, Whiskers & Wags offers same-day service.

Grieving owners can say goodbye in a private viewing room and will receive ashes on the same day of their pet’s passing.

2. Paws, Whiskers & Wags guarantees the ashes you receive are those of your pet.

They do this by cremating each pet alone, which doesn’t always happen at other pet crematories.

3. They are on-call 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

Because as we all know, death doesn’t always happen when it’s convenient. Their normal hours are 9am to 5pm and walk-ins are welcome.

4. They offer unique ways to remember your pet.

You can purchase mementos like paw prints, jewelry or gorgeous urns.

I’m not going to lie, the paw print made my eyes well up a little bit.

5. They offer grief counseling.

Everyone is welcome to their location on the first Tuesday of every month at 6:30 p.m. because for those of us who treat our pets like family, just getting over a dog is not an option.

I think my favorite thing about Henry, aside from his adorable sense of style, was how he referred to pets exclusively as “loved ones.” As someone who refers to her dog as her “daughter,” I really appreciate this.

And Paws, Whiskers & Wags doesn’t just take care of dogs and cats.

Henry told me that they have helped owners of iguanas, opossums, hedgehogs, pot-bellied pigs, snakes, rabbits and even a spider monkey.

Nobody wants to think about their pet crossing the rainbow bridge, but if there’s one thing I learned from Christine and Henry, it’s that you need to think about it. Think about it and make a plan.

This is the best way to make sure that your pet is treated as well in death as they are in life.

Paws, Whiskers & Wags is available 24 hours a day at 980-819-2504 or you can visit them at 2511 South Tryon Street.

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