German church starts new service: animal burial liturgy


Central Europe


A picture taken on June 2, 2015 shows a model tombstone with an engraving of a hand and a paw on a cemetery, when animals and their owners can be buried together in Braubach-Dachsenhausen, western Germany. Photo AFP, Thomas Frey

A German who loses a dearly loved pet can now choose to hold a memorial service for the animal. For the first time in the country, and perhaps in Europe.

The animal undertaker “Schönhalde Tierbestattung” has bought the former Methodist Pauluskirche in Albstadt-Pfeffingen, Idea reports. It will use the building to accommodate funeral services for deceased pets.

The website of the company reads that it is the first facility of its kind in Germany. Schönhalde will renovate the building before it is opened at the end of the year at the latest. Manager Florian Düsterwald reveals to Idea that the tree as a symbol for the cycle of life will be an important part of the new design. “The table for laying out the body of the pets will be made from the trunk of a 150-year-old silver fir.”

Religiously neutral

During the farewell liturgy, religious officials, such as ministers or shamans, can participate and speak. “We see ourselves as religiously neutral”, Düsterwald says. In addition, meditative music can be played as well.

Most pet owners choose to cremate their animals, Düsterwald notices. Only a few are buried. Most pet owners choose to take the ashes of their animals to keep them in their houses. The undertaker company also offers bio urns, which can be buried in the backyard.


Whoever wants a funeral service and a cremation for his or her pet has to pay about 500 euros, depending on the size of the animal.

In total, the company has led over 600 memorial services for pets this year, Düsterwald estimates. Most of them concern cats and dogs, but sometimes there are also parrots, budgies and rodents. Once, there was also a goat. And services can even be held for horses, even though the animals cannot be brought to the church because they are too big.

Methodist parish

The Pauluskirche was built in 1955 and has been empty for years, Idea writes. Last July, it was deconsecrated and detached from the local Methodist parish it belonged to.

The managers of the animal undertaker company do not want to tell Idea how much they paid for the building. They only say that the price was “fair to both sides.”



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