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Horse crematorium open in western suburbs

Sara Tucker had her 24-year-old horse Kismet cremated at Hinsdale Pet Cemetary in Willowbrook. (Stacey Wescott/Chicago Tribune photo)

Sara Tucker had her 24-year-old horse Kismet cremated at Hinsdale Pet Cemetary in Willowbrook. (Stacey Wescott/Chicago Tribune photo)

When Darien resident Sara Tucker was deciding how to peacefully dispose of her deceased horse’s body, the last thing she wanted was to see her 24-year-old Arabian mare, Kismet, chained and dragged onto a flatbed truck.

“It’s really tough because many places don’t treat horses like pets or family, and that’s what Kismet was,” Tucker said. “She was irreplaceable, and after years of service and loving, I wanted a better way for her to exit the world.”

Tucker called on Hinsdale Animal Cemetery, an 85-year-old Willowbrook-based pet crematorium and cemetery, which recently opened a horse crematorium. Owner Bill Remkus said the Tucker were the first to use service.

“We were getting so many people inquiring about (horse cremation) – all of them looking for their horse to be handled gently and not just thrown into a truck,” Remkus said. “That’s the type of handling we provide.”

Tucker said the cemetery used special equipment to pick up Kismet, and that her body was cradled and lifted onto the trailer rather than dragged or damaged in the process.

Tucker's horse Kismet was located out of a Willowbrook stable where she was used for riding lessons and competition, Tucker said. (Submitted photo)

“I’m so thankful they were there as an option,” Tucker said. “It’s a more peaceful way for her to go, and it made me feel good. She was a horse I cared about for so many years and I was able to take care of her all the way to the very end.”

The crematorium , which opened six weeks ago, can hold horses up to 1,500 pounds. Costs to cremate a horse is between $525 and $925, depending on the animal’s weight. The price includes pick-up of the horse within 25 miles and a wooden chest urn to house the remains.

Remkus said he’s aware of other groups that provide horse cremation, but his crematorium was specially designed to be like those for  people, only on a larger scale, he said.  Other horse disposal services use barrel-type incinerators similar to those used for the disposal of medical waste, he said.

“We’re the first ones that we know of that have a crematory specifically designed for the cremation of large companion animals,” Remkus said.

For an animal as large as a horse, the cremation process takes about four hours, Remkus said. Owners can then take home the ashes in an urn, have them interred at the cemetery or have them scattered by cemetery staff.

The cost of the service decreases if the owner chooses to have the animal’s ashes spread at the cemetery, according to its website.

Horse owners are welcome to stay and be present during the cremation process or choose to pick up ashes at a later date.

“We encourage the participation of pet parents in the process,” Remkus said. “It adds the closure that so many people need.”

Tucker said when her 13 and 18-year-old horses reach an age where she’ll have to make the decision on how to handle the remain, she’s sure she’ll go the same route.

“I’m more confident knowing what I’ll do down the road now that I went through it with Kismet,” she said. “There’s no comparison. They’re expensive animals and they’re with you for a long time. You love them as much as family.”

bdoyle@tribune.com
Twitter: @tribdoyle

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