Here at Custom Earth Promos, we've talked about eco-friendly ways to take care of a human body after a loved one passes, but what about your pets?

Kathy Chiavola never knew how happy the pair of dogs she adopted would make her.

"Possum and Pearl have appeared in books. They have hundreds of fans. They even have their own song."

Nashville, Tennessee, Singer-Songwriter Kathy Chiavola

When Possum was unexpectedly lost this year, Chiavola was looking for a fitting way to memorialize her beloved dog. This is when she turned to Beloved Waters, Tennessee's first and only aquamation pet funeral service.

"We're an environmentally friendly alternative to pet cremation. If your pet passes, we use water-based technology to take care of your pet and process the remains for you."

Beloved Waters Co-founder Shay Underwood

Chiavola had previously used flame-based cremation. She was very happy to learn about the environmentally friendly approach aquamation takes.

"When I called...I heard the voice of an angel. She was the sweetest, kindest lady and I knew she would take care of Possum's remains with the highest respect. I trusted them more than anyone and that proved to be the right way to go for me."

Nashville, Tennessee, Singer-Songwriter Kathy Chiavola

Aquamation, better known by its technical name of alkaline hydrolysis, uses a solution of water, potassium hydroxide, and sodium hydroxide to break down remains. There are no fossil fuels and no emissions during this process.
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Underwood said that the water is so clean, it can even be used to water farm crops!

Not only is it cleaner for the environment, aquamation uses 90 percent less energy than traditional, flame-based cremation. Underwood stated that this is the same amount of energy a family of five uses in a single day.

"Flame cremation of a pet is the same equivalent of driving a car 500 miles, as far as the carbon footprint goes."

Beloved Waters Co-founder Shay Underwood

No pet is too big or too small for Beloved Waters. They can process up to 400 pounds and the machine has 14 private chambers, ensuring remains don't mix.

Another customer, Holly Potts, said her daughters were beside themselves with grief when the family's hamster died. But, after talking to Beloved Waters, they now "had something to look forward to" and planned a funeral for the beloved little pet.

"I felt like we dealt with it a little better."

Holly Potts

Every animal is treated individually, regardless of their size, and placed in their own compartment before being lowered into the solution. The process takes 18 to 20 hours to complete. Ash remains are then air dried for three days and ground into a fine powder before being returned to the family.

The total turnaround time is five to seven days.

Each pet is returned with an inked paw print and fur clipping, along with the packaged remains. Underwood stated that on average, 20 percent more remains are returned with aquamation than what would be with flame-based cremation.

"We're the next best thing to burying them at home"

Beloved Waters Co-founder Mary Jo Yeager

Although alkaline hydrolysis is relatively new to the pet funeral industry, aquamation was used as a sterile way to handle mad cow disease infected animal remains in the 1990s, explains Underwood.

Cremation, versus in-ground burial, is becoming more popular in the human funeral industry. Cremation rates in the US were up to 53 percent in 2018, and the Cremation Association of North America predicts that to rise in the next four years to 59 percent.

Yeager says she thinks rates are rising because "we're a mobile society." People move more frequently and live in places where pets can't be buried.

For now, pet aquamation is only allowed in Tennessee, but it is legal in 16 states for humans, including Georgia and Florida.

Beloved waters offers two packages. The Eco comes with the remains returned in a biodegradable urn, the fur clipping, the inked paw print on a canvas board, and a certificate of aquamation. The Deluxe package includes the addition of a photo urn and a clay paw print along with the inked one.

It isn't an inexpensive process, however. Prices range from $95 all the way to $440. For those looking to save money, communal services are offered as well. Those start at $30.

Jewelry for ash remains and a variety of other urn options are available for sale as well.

If you have recently lost a pet and are in the Middle Tennessee area, you can call them at 615-295-8934, email them at info@belovedwaterspet.com, or visit their website.