A second pet crematorium has opened in the Illawarra, servicing a growing trend for people who want to give their loved ones a thoughtful send off after life.
InvoCare (who manage funeral homes, cemeteries and crematoria worldwide) have opened their first dedicated Australian service to animals, Patch and Purr in Kanahooka.
"Families want to memorialise their pet in a way that is respectful as we do for humans," general manager Davina Bambrick said.
"I had a farm with chickens and sheep and dogs, it was quite the menagerie, so I guess I've had a real journey of grief and loss.
"And I'm quite familiar with that relationship with a pet - it's quite unique, and often quite misunderstood by a lot of people."
It's the second service of its type in the region, with Pets At Peace operating in Unanderra for 15 years.
Australia has the highest pet ownership rate in the world, according to Animal Medicines Australia, with about 5.7 million households (out of of the 9.2 million) have a pet.
That relationship with a pet - it's quite unique, and often quite misunderstood by a lot of people.Davina Bambrick
Its study also found a marked change in the role dogs and cats play in the household since 2013. The relationship between humans and their pets has become closer, with a significant lift in the proportion of owners seeing their pets as family members, rather than as companions.
Veterinary and pet services has also grown by more than 40 per cent over the past 10 years, according to Australian Bureau of Statistics research.
Maureen Bassett's 16-year-old Maltese Muffie passed away while travelling in Broome, but the thought of leaving her behind was too much.
"Her body was sent to Perth and then cremated and ashes sent over to Lake Heights," she said. "It wasn't cheap but how can you have a member of your family thrown on the rubbish dump."
Fee Wadsworth of Albion Park has cremated several pets and said her husband wants the ashes of their fur-babies buried with him when his time is up.
"A lot of people are getting so dissociated with other people, that it's more common place that their pets are their family," Mrs Wadsworth said.
"A lot of old people are especially left on their own and if they didn't have their pets they wouldn't get up in the morning. When it comes to the final time, they want to do the right thing by them."
Judy McCracken has also had several pets cremated, as to "keep their memory close rather than just tossing out as garbage as they are a life shared with you".