Cheney Free Press -


Staff Reporter 

Pet owners have choices during animals' final days


Al Stover

Northwest pet Cremation Services is on 12924 West Sunset Highway. Owner and operator James Konitzer models his business after funeral homes for humans.

For families who need funeral services for their pets there is Northwest Pet Cremation Services, in Airway Heights.

James Konitzer, owner and operator of Northwest Pet Cremation Services has spent 30 years in the funeral business.

Konitzer arrived in Spokane in 1992 and began working at Fairmount Memorial Association. He worked in management for 20 years, mentoring under president Duane Broils. At age 47, he decided to start a pet funeral home, something he has wanted to do since he was 20 years old. He said it took three years for him to start up his business. Konitzer's wife Carol, who has spent 20 years in nursing, supports her husband's business and works with him at the office.

James Kontizer mentioned that people have been leaning toward cremation over the last several years.

"Today's society is so mobile," Konitzer said. "They want to bring their pets with them, similar to their relatives, when they move. My thought was 'why can't we extend this service to our pets?'"

Konitzer explained that the business model for Northwest Pet Cremation Services is similar to funeral services for humans.

"We're treating this pet funeral home exactly like if you were walking into a human funeral home," James Kontizer said. "You have the services and options available to you."

Kontizer will meet with a client and have them fill out the information before receiving their animal for removal. Once they have an animal, they attach an identification tag to it. Konitzer said he double-checks all of the forms. The cremations take place in the back of the building and only one animal is processed at a time.

In addition to the removal, services include choice of urns, cremation process and administration services, a cremation certificate. Families can also decide if they would like to have the cremated remains returned to the veterinarian's office or themselves.

Customers can choose between the basic, preferred and premium packages.

Through the premium package, customers can get metal, porcelain or wooden urns where families can keep as keepsakes. There are also eco centric containers where families can plant a sapling in place of the lid, as well as biodegradable urns that dissolve in water.

There is also a viewing room or a chapel for memorial services included with the premium package. Families can either have their pet placed into a casket prior to the cremation for a viewing or have pictures and a container with the cremated remains in the center for a memorial service.

Konitzer said the funeral home works with a hospice group that is specifically trained to comfort families with animals.

The Konitzers do not charge for services for service animals, therapy animals, guide dogs or police dogs. Military personnel and veterans receive a 10 percent discount for services.

The Konitzers will also work out payment plans with families and make their services available for clients 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

"We want our clients to know that we feel as strongly about taking care of their pets at the end of its life as they did during its life and to bring a little bit of peace and closure," Carol Konitzer said.

The Konitzers plan to have a remembrance tree in the winter and give families a chance to hang ornaments dedicated to the animals that passed over the year. James Konitzer added that he eventually like to sell pet products and have a self-serve pet wash.

Al Stover can be reached at


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