Today's Trib story about Cottonwood Heights residents and business owners upset by plans for a pet crematorium reminded me of a recent visit I took to Best Friends' animal sanctuary just outside Kanab. A friend had told me the sanctuary's pet cemetery was one of the creepiest places she'd ever visited. Naturally I couldn't resist.---
I asked for directions from a woman in the Best Friends' store. She looked at me with strangely blank, hollowed-out eyes, then told me it was a few miles up the road that runs through their vast, red rock property and gave me a leaflet with prices. She also urged me to contact the person who ran the cemetery, presumably sniffing new business.
The cemetery, Angels Rest, is across the road from an outcrop overlooking a valley choked by what appeared to be russian olives. The sound of dozens, if not hundreds of chiming bells filled the air. Chimes are one of the cheaper options for mourners to memorialize their pets at Angels Rest. Because of space restrictions, Best Friends is now urging the bereaved to go with a $75 dedication plaque instead. That said, you can always have the $80-plus chimes shipped to your home.
I lucked out and met a knowledgeable volunteer. He said there were 5000 animals buried on the three acres, split into Angel Overlook and Angel South. Most of the gravestones marked full-body burials. The cremation option Cottonwood Heightites might note, apparently was not that popular.
As I wandered past the small red gravestones, most boasting a number of marbles, one deposited for each visit, all I could think of was not how much emotion lonely people can invest in their pets but rather the money these three acres represented.
According to the leaflet, "the suggested donation" for small animals is $300, for large [over 50 lbs] is $450. Scratch out a few numbers on a back of envelope and it would seem that these three beautifully kept acres may well have channeled a sizable $1 million-plus contribution to Best Friends' coffers.
I did find the cemetery creepy. Not so much for the grief it showcased as the money that pain generated.