Philly ‘Daily News’ Runs Pet Obits

By: Joann Loviglio, Associated Press Writer

(AP) Animal lovers who want to tell the world how much they miss their loyal Labrador or precious Persian can now take out an ad memorializing their dearly departed pets.

For $52.08, pet owners may say their final farewells — complete with a picture and a few lines of text — in the Philadelphia Daily News, starting Tuesday. The notices will appear once a month under the heading “A Fond Farewell to our Beloved Pet.”

“We’re thinking of them more as pet tributes than obituaries,” said Debi Licklider, an editor at the paper. “It’s something you can cut out and keep. We also think that people may like to read them.”

Licklider’s 9-year-old West Highland White Terrier, Winnie, died a year ago and will be featured in Tuesday’s edition.

“When I wrote it, it made me realize there were a lot of things I wanted to say even though I only had a couple of sentences,” she said. “I have two kids — it’s not like I’m making my dog into a child — but it made me realize how big a part of your life they can be.”

Other newspapers have tried the idea, but found it slow to catch on. The Daily Local News of West Chester, Pa., pulled its “pet memorial” section in the early 1990s. “It was eye-catching at first but they turned out to not be very popular,” said Debbie Clamer, retail manager at the newspaper.

The Sun of Bremerton, Wash., ran only four “pet tributes” last year — including one for Bayba, “a friendly, spunky, playful dog who loved her squeaky toys, soft blankies, and chasing after a tennis ball.” But obituary writer Beth Mateikat is hopeful.

“What I’ve heard from people is that it’s just a good way to get closure,” said Mateikat, who plans to contribute a memorial to one of her cats, who recently was struck by a car and killed.

A grief counselor said more newspapers should follow suit.

“It’s the kind of loss where there is no social (outlet) for your heartbreak,” said Barbara Meyers, who has worked with bereaved pet owners for 20 years in her New York City practice. “The most unrecognized and openly ridiculed kind of grief is our grief for our beloved animals.”

Philadelphia Daily News editors had been knocking around the idea for a while, but it picked up steam after an editor jotted down his recollections about a pet and it caught the eye of editor Zack Stalberg, Licklider said.

“He was sort of touched by it and thought maybe there were people out there who would want to do something like that,” she said.

Daily News Classified Advertising Manager Carl Meline said the memorials initially will run on the first Tuesday of every month but will appear more frequently if demand calls for it.

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