According to Walnut Lawn Funeral Home CEO Ruth Ann Wood-Humiston, Cherished Pets Funeral Home and Crematory has been a dream in the making. (Photo by Shannon Cay)

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Springfield will soon have a new place to put family members of a different species to final rest, as the owner of Walnut Lawn Funeral Home is just months away from opening a pet funeral home.

Cherished Pets Funeral Home & Crematory will open sometime in June, said Owner Dr. Ruth Ann Wood-Humiston. The pet funeral home, located at 2021 W. Walnut Lawn St., will offer a variety of services intended to help customers walk through the grieving process of losing a loved animal companion. That includes professional funerals, visitation rooms, an on-site crematory and more.

The funeral home also plans to offer after-care, for pet owners to seek out continued care following the loss of a beloved pet, including a bereavement program, Wood-Humiston said.

Her husband and business partner, Richard Turner, will manage the pet funeral home. They aim to deliver a sense of professionalism to pet funeral care in Springfield. The two are certified pet funeral directors and are part of two professional pet-aftercare organizations, she said. The company is working towards accreditation from the International Association of Pet Cemeteries and Crematories.

“We want to provide everything here at Cherished Pets that we do on the human side at Walnut Lawn,” Wood-Humiston said at Walnut Lawn Funeral Home in late April. “We want to bring that professionalism for our pets because they deserve a great remembrance, services, all of that.”

The total financial investment for the over 5,000-square-foot pet funeral home, located directly next to Walnut Lawn Funeral Home, was $2 million, Wood-Humiston said, including a $400,000 custom-built pet crematorium. The company broke ground on the facility in August 2023, with construction in the final phases in April 2024.

Pet funeral home an idea a decade in the making

The future building for Cherished Pets Funeral Home and Crematory, right next door to Walnut Lawn Funeral Home. (Photo: submitted)

The pet funeral home is a passion project for Wood-Humiston, she said. The motivation to begin the project dates much further back than the late-2023 construction start. The idea for the pet side of the company came initially from Wood-Humiston's father, Bobby Dean Wood, co-founder of Walnut Lawn Funeral Home.

About a decade ago, Wood came up with idea of a pet funeral home in Springfield, “but just didn't pursue it,” Wood-Humiston said.

When she took over ownership of the family funeral home business about six years ago, the pet funeral home was one of the first ideas she began to explore, she said. That set her on a path of visiting similar facilities as far away as California to map out her ideal design.

“Five or six years ago I started researching what was available, what was out there,” Wood-Humiston said.

A generational change in attitude toward pets

There's pet cemeteries and crematoriums in the Springfield metro area, but there's no full-service funeral home for animals, Wood-Humiston said. The need for such a facility is increasing in Springfield, as more people are growing more attached to their pets than pet owners of generations past.

Adults “are really seeing their pets as children,” Wood-Humiston said. “Especially in the last five to six years.”

That's one of the reasons why the funeral home director is so passionate about bringing these services to Springfield.

“Psychologically, in our culture, to have a healthy grieving process, we need to remember and we need some time to process,” Wood-Humiston said. “There are no pet bereavement support groups in this town. There’s no follow up. We’re going to bring that to the town.”

A full-service pet funeral home

This courtyard is the center of the new building for Cherished Pets Funeral Home and Crematory. (Photo by Shannon Cay)

The funeral home really means to be full-service, she said. Customers can bring their pet to Cherished Pets, or the company will collect them. Once there, a number of services are available, including a professional funeral service or memorial. There are also private visitation rooms, if customers want some more time with their pets before burial or cremation.

“It's just like having a human family member pass away,” Wood-Humiston said.

If a customer chooses cremation, there are four private cremation-viewing windows, giving those who want it the opportunity to watch their beloved's final moments. That can be part of the grieving process for some people, Wood-Humiston said.

In the center of the facility, an open-aired corridor lets sunlight shine through to a prayer or meditation garden. Complete with stained-glass windows, the space allows grieving pet owners to sit in the garden for reflection at any point during the services. There's also a small chapel on its premises.

Of course, there are all kinds of post-cremation options, including everything from a traditional urn to a wooden one, jewelry, and other ways to memorialize your pet. There's even a “painting with cremations” option the company is exploring, Wood-Humiston said.

“They have ones now that are kind of neat that are inside bonsai trees,” she said. “So you put the remains in the bottom part and it grows the tree.”

The cremation chamber at Cherished Petes, also known as a retort, has individual stalls so pets can be cremated alone rather than in a group. (Photo: Submitted)

The facility includes a custom-made, state-of-the-art crematory, which includes eight individual chambers. It takes up a massive amount of space in the garage side of the facility, and weighs about 75,000 pounds. The crematorium cost about $400,000, she said.

“If families want that individual cremation, that private cremation, they’re going to get the opportunity to,” Wood-Humiston said.

While Cherished Pets does not have a large-animal cremation retort, the company has partnered with another southwest Missouri company to provide that service to customers with large animals, she said.

Options when it comes to a final resting place

If a customer prefers a burial, the pet funeral home has partnered with two pet cemeteries to provide burial options, Wood-Humiston said. Cherished Pets can also perform at-home burials and services.

The company offers what Wood-Humiston calls “Green Burials” and other eco-friendly methods, where no container is used and the pet is placed directly in the ground.

“There's not a casket, there’s not an outside container,” she said. “Their bodies go directly back to the earth.”

Prices for the variety of services are still being decided, but will be posted on the company's website when it opens, Wood-Humiston said. Just like at Walnut Lawn, there will be packages offered to help offset costs.

“We are trying to make it economical, but it's still a business,” Wood-Humiston said.

The company is trying to make bookings digital-first, with a full-service website that will launch soon, giving families the option to enroll in services themselves, instead of going through a veterinarian, she said.

Cherished Pets is a completely separate business entity from Walnut Lawn Funeral Home, Wood-Humiston said. Cherished Pets Funeral Home and Crematory, LLC, was formed in March 2022, according to Missouri Secretary of State records.

Firsthand experience with the loss of loved pets

These are two of the pets in Dr. Ruth Ann Wood-Humiston's family, who are opening up Cherished Pets Funeral Home and Crematory. (Photo: submitted)

As to be expected, beloved pets, specifically dogs and horses, play a major role in Wood-Humiston's life. In fact, the brochure for Cherished Pets shows the funeral director's whole family, along with three very good dogs she holds dear.

Wood-Humiston understands firsthand the importance of having a place to remember lost loved pets. She's lost both a dog and a horse that were central parts of her family in the past few years, she said.

Buddy, an Australian shepherd, passed away in 2021 from cancer complications. Two years later, her family lost a mare named Grande Impressive Jewel that they had raised from birth.

“She was our baby,” Wood-Humiston said of the horse. “When she was born, she would leave her mom and meet me at the barn in the morning at feeding time.”

The two animals are buried together under a cherry blossom on property the family bought in 2021. Every spring, the tree blooms, giving the family a beautiful spot to remember the two animals they loved so much.

Having a burial service for their pets was very important to the family's grieving process, Wood-Humiston said. Having a spot to memorialize them, was equally as important. She said she just wants to be able to provide a full-range of services so other families have the same opportunities to properly say goodbye as well.

The funeral director said she christened the family's newly-bought property after their mare, fondly nicknamed Miss Grande, that passed away from childbirth complications.

“I named the property for her,” Wood-Humiston said. “Part of her name was ‘Impressive' so our farm is called Impressive Sunsets Farm.”

Ruth Ann Wood-Humiston and her family now run the Cherished Pets Funeral Home and Crematory alongside the Walnut Lawn Funeral Home. (Photo: submitted)

Ryan Collins

Ryan Collins is the business and economic development reporter for the Hauxeda. Collins graduated from Glendale High School in 2011 before studying journalism and economics at the University of Missouri-Columbia. He previously worked for Bloomberg News. Contact him at (417) 849-2570 or More by Ryan Collins