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7-8-18 Cat Silhouette Pet Memorial Marker I have been using Pets We Loved Markers for a couple of years and have always been pleased with the quality and designs. They are highly acclaimed by all who see them. Francesca Poisson

6-19-18 Value Medium White Pet Casket I lost my precious Misty suddenly on 6/10 and had to purchase a coffin for her. The service was wonderful--it was here in 3 days and it is beautiful. It seals beautifully and is a real tribute to her short 5 years with me. Thank you for providing this product. Diane Alberigi

6-6-18 20 Deluxe Pet Casket Size Small We love our pets, and have a pet cemetery on our property. When we lose one, it's like losing a close friend. I loved this little casket for my 15 year old chihuahua friend, Jose. I loved the covered bed, pillow, and an additional pretty coverlet to cover him after we said goodbye. It shipped quickly as we were approaching the last days. Good product, good company. Nancy Bertine

5-21-18 Cat Mini Arch Pet Memorial Marker This is the 5th Memorial I have ordered. It arrived on time, within budget and the company emailed me letting me know that the order had been received, shipped and delivered. The prices are extremely good and the product is excellent. Jacquelyne Hill

4-23-18 VIP Pet Casket Pink or Blue size Medium We ordered this casket for our sweet baby fur daughter last Saturday- she passed away last Monday. We ordered it the Saturday before because we knew it was not long before she passed. This casket came in perfect condition and was absolutely wonderful. It was beautiful, well-made, sturdy, and beyond perfect for our darling little puppy angel. I was so proud of it. Thank you for the time and the thoughtfulness that you put into it- We do not have children and so our fur babies are our life. It was heartbreaking but your casket helped with some of the pain. I highly recommend. Love you all. Michelle

Pets We Loved article Fitting Farewell

Recent Article about Pets We Loved

Fitting farewell

Tyngsboro man creates caskets for pets so bereaved owners can give their beloved animals a dignified end

AUSTIN O'CONNOR, Sun Staff
Keekee sits on the coffee table at Susan Hynes' house in Chelmsford. Keekee always sits on the coffee table, even when guests are visiting. Keekee is a cat.

Well, Keekee was a cat. Keekee died of throat cancer last fall. But his death hasn't prevented him from sitting out on the coffee table. That's where Hynes keeps his ashes, in a kitty-shaped porcelain urn with his name engraved on it. "It looks like a statue," says the 49-year-old Hynes. "I love my cat and I want to keep him out. So I can leave it out and people think it's like a knick-knack. But I know better."

So does Steve Mondazzi, the Tyngsboro man who sold her the urn. Mondazzi owns and operates Pets We Loved, a home-based small business that offers customizable pet funeral products to grieving pet owners. In addition to selling the popular urns, which come in all shapes and sizes and can be made to hold everything from skunks to horses, Mondazzi also builds caskets.
The caskets run from $115 to $245, though special orders can cost more. The names are fitting, since it was Sammy and Dusty, and their untimely deaths within months of each other in 2003, that led Mondazzi to dream up the business in the first place. "I was in the middle of a long layoff," explains Mondazzi, a tech worker by trade and lifelong pet owner and lover. "And I had the idea to start something different. I really wanted to start my own business." When Sammy and Dusty died, Mondazzi put his carpentry skills to work. His family and friends were so impressed with the caskets they wondered if it might make a viable business.

A bit of research told him that there was an opportunity. Pet care is a $34 billion industry, and though there are several large companies that manufacture pet caskets, most distribute them in bulk, making customization nearly impossible and very expensive for consumers. "I figured out that I can make them myself and offer them at a reasonable price," he says. "I build them and send them off to customers myself." Mondazzi wasn't so sure when he started last year. In the fall, he took his idea to a veterinarians' show in Orlando, Fla., and pitched it to pet doctors. "A lot of vets don't really want to discuss this stuff," he says. "Some were less than thrilled. They say their job is to save pets, not to help bury them." But death is a fact of life, and Mondazzi's task has been to convince veterinarians that helping a pet owner deal with the loss of a beloved furry friend is a good way to guarantee future business. "Sometimes dealing with grief is going to be a memorable experience for pet owners," he explains. "People will get another pet, and they'll come back."

When a pet dies, the owner is ultimately responsible for the disposal of the body. Much of the time, veterinarians simply charge the owner for cremation or burial. But owners who feel a special connection to their pet often like to handle that themselves, and that's where Pets We Loved comes in. "It's amazing what people who really love their pets will do for them. They get very emotionally attached," says Mondazzi. "Some have never had children, so (the pets) are like children." "They know I make boxes for kitties and pets," he says. "Other than that, they're not sure." As for friends, Mondazzi admits he's gotten some quizzical looks. "Oh, sure," he laughs. "I talk about the business with as many people as I can. Initially, they think it's creepy. Then they start thinking about it, and it makes sense. It's something no one wants to think about until it happens."

The referrals from local vets are starting to pick up, but for now most of his sales come through his Web site, www.petsweloved.com Orders have come from as far away as California, and from Colorado, Virginia, Michigan and Arkansas, too. Talking to Mondazzi, it's easy to see that such interaction with fellow pet lovers is at least as important to him as filling the orders, which are growing by the week. "If you're not really a pet lover, you might have a hard time understanding it," he says, recalling dozens of emotional e-mails from customers. "It kind of chews you up to read what people send you or when you hear them crying. I'm like a therapist to them. My wife and I have been through it several times, so we know what it's like."

One recent week, Mondazzi got home each evening from his day job and spent most of the night in his garage, constructing caskets.
"I didn't get much sleep that week," he says. "But this is as much a labor of love as it is a business. It's just really about comforting people. When they can be comfortable with putting their pets to rest, it's something that gives them peace of mind. That's been the most rewarding part of this." Back at her home in Chelmsford, Hynes talks on the phone as Keekee sits before her, in his customary spot atop the coffee table. "I wanted him to be with me," she says of her lost friend. "And he is."