A craftsman's work helps pet owners remember their companions after they pass away.
Vallie Papalia makes and donates pet cremation boxes to the Warren County Humane Society. After starting last summer, he said he has made 75 or more.
"My niece got me into it," Papalia said. "She works there."
Times Observer photo by Colin Kyler
Vallie Papalia holds his latest work while delivering it to the Warren County Humane Society.
The project began when he made a dog coup, said Papalia, whose hobby is wood-working. After the intended beneficiary failed to pick up the coup, he said he brought it to the society.
His niece told him they could use it, Papalia said, and also talked about the boxes used to keep the remains of cremated dogs and cats. Since then, he said he makes about two each week.
WCHS Director Karen Kolos said workers at the society provide cremation services to the public and area veterinarians for pets who have passed on. Papalia has helped by donating time and supplies, she said, allowing for a nicer presentation of the cremains.
"We take great care in making sure the pet is handled like one of our own," Kolos said. "We're proud of what we do and we do a good job."
Alternatively, Kolos said people can bury their pets at home. Different places offer urns and caskets, she said.
According to Kolos, some might choose burial if they have available land. She said others might choose cremation if they plan to move and want to take the remains with them.
Kolos said more people choose cremation as they become more aware of the option.
It takes about two hours to make each one of the containers, which feaure various hardwoods, Papalia said.
According to Papalia, he relies on different friends who have woodworking shops. Depending on availability, he said types of wood used might include red oak and cherry.
"I'll be 83 in April," Papalia said. "I'm not sure how much longer I'll do it."
For the time, Papalia said the activity keeps him busy. When he can't sleep at night, he said he goes out to the garage to work on the boxes.