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Customized pet business heals hearts

| Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2014, 11:57 a.m.

A chance conversation concerning a pet's death led Deb Chebatoris to a life-changing and career-changing moment. Her friend's euthanized pet was going to be transported by a woman who was to perform its cremation.

This woman also was in the process of selling her business. Chebatoris was not sure why but she felt compelled to inquire further into owning and operating a pet crematory. This was a complete change from her background as a CPA working in the health care field for more than 20 years. The bigger obstacle was that she was highly allergic to dogs and cats.

Despite her initial reservations and her interest increasing, she accompanied the woman to homes to help transport the bodies and her allergies were not triggered. She took this as a sign that she was meant to own this type of business.

Her friend, Theresa Klemencic, owned Furry Friends on Washington Avenue, Bridgeville, and initially had space within her shop for Chebatoris to locate her business. This led to buying the building in 2004, four months of renovations, and the delivery and installation of a 9-ton cremation unit before she could open Chartiers Custom Pet Cremation at 442 Washington Ave. in January 2005.

The business offers a “from your hands to mine” approach that comforts families who already are distressed due to the loss of their beloved pet.

Once the pet is received into Chebatoris' care, she is the only person who provides services for the pet. Many have her receive their pet from the veterinarian or their home after the euthanasia is performed or the pet experiences a natural, unassisted death.

It takes approximately four to five hours from beginning to end and the family can witness any part of the process they care to see. She returns the cremains to the family in a handmade fabric bag. She has more than 100 fabrics to choose from; however, she will sew and make a bag from a fabric that a family provides due to the sentimental value of the fabric. She has used favorite blankets, pillows, jackets, pajamas and scarves that were once a part of the pet's life with the family.

She also provides a clipping of the pet's fur, wrapped around a silk rose bud and placed in a vase, to be given to the family as a special remembrance. She has roughly 350 different urns at the Bridgeville location. She also carries unusual and custom-made receptacles such as resin rocks, memory paws, and urns made of rare woods, handcrafted ceramics ad biodegradable materials. She also holds viewings for families.

Chebatoris is eager to give back to the Bridgeville community, participating in 2010-11 with the Borough of Bridgeville and the Allegheny Restores Project that made available partial funding to repair and update building facades in the central Bridgeville business district. She has also sponsored pet first aid classes and dog aggression classes.

Chartiers Custom Pet Cremation has scheduled its annual Healing Hearts Pet Loss Grief Seminar on Sunday, Feb. 16, at LaBella Bean Café, 609 Washington Ave., Bridgeville. The café will be closed to the public during this session. The session is free and includes a speaker with information and resources for working through the trauma of losing a pet. Pet owners are welcome to listen to and share stories of their animal companions. RSVP at 412-220-7800. Space is limited. For more information, visit www.ccpc.ws.

Charlotte Smith is a contributing writer for Trib Total Media and can be reached at 724-693-9441 or charlotte59@comcast.net.

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