By Lena Mitchell/NEMS Daily Journal Corinth Bureau
CORINTH – As his employer prepares to offer pet funeral, cremation and cemetery services in West Tennessee and Northeast Mississippi, George Coleman made presentations to the city of Corinth and Alcorn County Board of Supervisors about services he would like to provide to the local animal shelter.
Coleman is proposing to provide pet cremations as a more humane method to dispose of euthanized animals at the city-county shelter, a practice that is commonplace in Memphis and other larger municipalities but is rare in small rural communities, he said.
An article several months ago in USA Today suggested to Coleman, a retired businessman, how he might spend the next phase of his life after retirement: operating a pet funeral, cremation and cemetery business.
After months of discussions with owners of the Shackelford Funeral Home Group in Savannah, Tenn., they are establishing a pet division with Coleman as its manager.
“The Shackelfords have been in business 94 years, longer than many of the funeral homes in this area, and have seven funeral homes in five counties in West Tennessee,” Coleman said. “We’re about a month away from opening.”
By the end of February or early March the business will offer full service state-of-the-art pet cremation, pet cemetery and pet funerals, initially from its Savannah headquarters, then expanding into Bolivar, Lawrenceburg and Lexington, Tenn. and Tupelo.
Coleman, too, has funeral home credentials, having grown up in a family that operated a funeral home in Corinth for more than 50 years.
“Our office facilities in Savannah will be ready in about two weeks, but we’re about a month away from a cremation machine and pet cemetery,” he said.
Currently animals that are euthanized at the Corinth-Alcorn Humane Society shelter are taken to the garbage transfer station and then to the area landfill.
“Even if you don’t like animals it’s a health issue,” Coleman said. “A veterinarian said people need to know that, like mercury, the chemical in the fluid used to put down animals does not go away. It stays in the ground and poses a chemical hazard.”
Coleman said he has met with 52 veterinarians including Corinth, Iuka, Booneville, Baldwyn, Belmont, Ripley and is making his way to Tupelo to meet with veterinarians and to see the animal shelter.
“The pet industry is a growing business, but the aftercare part is something where people have kind of turned their heads,” Coleman said. “In some places the cremation and funeral services are pretty prevalent, but in the South people are not as attuned to this, but the animals deserve more.”
Contact Lena Mitchell at 287-9822 or firstname.lastname@example.org