Paw prints forever on the heart

Every pet owner knows the devastation of losing that four-legged member of the family. Whether it's a dog or cat is irrelevant. The bond between humans and their companion animals is undeniably strong. When the inevitable comes, even grown men are known to cry.

For Peter Pagano, tending to the animal's remains is a matter of respect and of comforting the owners whose pets have died. That's the idea behind Paw Prints Forever Pet Crematory.

Pagano's name might be familiar since he's the owner of Pagano Funeral Home in Boothwyn. It's a business he built in 2000. In 2009 he was granted a permit to have a crematory on site there. Almost from the beginning, he knew people were interested in having their departed pets taken care of properly.

He started by getting a few calls per month, but then they increased in frequency.

"I'd get a call every week asking if we could cremate a pet," he said. However, state law prohibits cremating animals and humans in the same facility. "You have to have a separate crematory for that. But the more calls I got, the more I started thinking that maybe I should open a pet crematory."

Paw Prints Forever also offers a variety of urns and lawn plaques.

In 2011 he bought the site of the Rigby Funeral Home in the southbound lanes of Route 202 in Concord Township. He didn't do anything with the property until 2016 when he decided to use that location as a pet crematory. He's proud of what he's accomplished with the site.

"I wanted to put up a good looking place. I wanted a warm presentable place to give the public options when their pet passes away," he said.

Previously, he explained, people only had two options, either to bury the pet in the back yard, which is now illegal in some places, or at least frowned upon, he said, or to go through the veterinarian.

"The veterinarian does not do cremations…The veterinarian subs it out to a third party crematory. The question always was ‘Would you like communal or cremation individual pet cremation,'" he said.

Pagano continued by saying there were always doubts over what people who chose individual cremation got in return. He told a story of someone who had two small dogs, weighing about 10 pounds each. The first dog died, the owner had it cremated and received the ashes. Later, when the second dog died, the owner opted for the same service but received something unexpected.

"They got twice as many ashes back," he said. "The animals were the same size. How could they get back twice as many ashes as the first time?"

Paw Prints operates on an individual basis, sometimes through a veterinarian, but the pet owner can always contact Paw Prints directly. They also work with a veterinarian who would come to the house to euthanize a pet at home if need be.

"Here at Paw Prints, all animals are cremated individually, on our premises here. Everything is captured on video…It's all about making the family feel better," Pagano said.

Paw Prints Forever handles household pets, not large animals such as horses. The size of the animal determines the price. Prices range from $90 for a pet of no more than two pounds, up to $395 for a dog weighing 150 to 200 pounds.

Included in the service is a video recording of how they handle the animal. Most people don't care to view the recording, he said, but it's available to them for about three weeks. Pagano also sells urns for the ashes and non-urn lawn plaques for those who don't want the ashes.

Families may come in to have a viewing and can even bring in remaining pets for the viewing if they choose, Pagano said.

Paw Prints Forever opened 10 weeks ago in June. Since then, Paw Prints has been getting about four calls per week, and Pagano estimates that will increase to 10 per week by this time next year.

The business is currently open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, but plans are to expand to a seven-day operation.

For more information, phone 610-459-3600 or go to

About Rich Schwartzman

Rich Schwartzman has been reporting on events in the greater Chadds Ford area since September 2001 when he became the founding editor of The Chadds Ford Post. In April 2009 he became managing editor of ChaddsFordLive. He is also an award-winning photographer.



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