It’s heartbreaking to look at their favorite sleeping spot and see it empty or to come home to a house where they’re no longer waiting to pounce as soon as the door opens.
It’s a pain that Keri Kernke, manager of Smith & Kernke’s Ever Faithful Pet Funeral Home and Crematory, is all too familiar with. When she lost her boxer, Quincy, in 2010, which she called her “child,” her pain was compacted when, upon researching funeral venues, none were on par with her standards.
“In the past, we’ve had cremations done and we didn’t know if we were getting our dog back, and I wasn’t really happy,” she said. “But what do you do when there’s only one or two people to go to when you have to cremate your dog?” Her question was answered when her father, wanting to expand Smith & Kernke, opened a separate facility with animal cremations and funeral services, allowing customers to follow them “every step of the way” throughout the process.
“There’s nothing like this around,” Kernke said. “There’s not even a funeral home for pets in Oklahoma City.”
At Ever Faithful, however, one may pick from a display of urns or reserve a special visitation room.
“I’ve had people take their dog and cat in there for some alone time,” he said. “We understand how important this process is because we’ve been there before.”
One important service she offers, Kernke believes, is a planning service.
“It’s really hard for people to handle this [death] when it happens,” Kernke said. “I had one lady call me and say, ‘I don’t think I can deal with it the day I put my dog down ... so I should take care of this before it happens.’ So that’s a great reason to preplan.”
Kernke understands that, from the outside, this all may seem rather strange, even silly, to someone who doesn’t own or enjoy family pets. But she has also been witness to the connections that each and every customer has had with their pets, and to her, that makes it more than a job.
“I believe this is an important service in Oklahoma City, and one that people who consider their pet a member of their family can understand.
It’s a connection that only someone who has been through this process can understand.”