Reporter: Melinda Zosh
Lynchburg, VA - A memorial service on Sunday honored the lives of dozens of pets. It's the first event like it put on by Diuguid Funeral Home in Lynchburg. Organizers wanted to give the community the chance to mourn their deceased pets.
Dozens of people gathered together inside the funeral home's chapel. They came to honor and remember their pets.
"Two precious little boys that gave me so much joy," said service attendee Alice Byers.
Byers still clings to memories of her cats, Sugar Foot and Friskie Baby.
"I kiss (their pictures) good-night every night, along with my husband's picture," said Byers.
Byers was with both cats until the end.
"I wanted to let them know that their momma wasn't gonna leave them, and I didn't. Both of them had little caskets, and they never spent a night outside until they were buried," said Byers.
Others are mourning the loss of their pets for the first time.
"We have ways to process our grief, when we lose an animal, people often don't have any type of venue to do that," said General Manager of Diuguid Funeral Home Dan Mason.
Animal experts say pet owners need time to grieve those losses.
"This is a way to share as a group that we do have these feelings and it's ok," said Dr. Albert Henry, veterinarian at Peaksview Animal Hospital.
Byers is still grieving 20 years after her first pet, Sugar Foot, died.
I miss them so much but I know they're in Heaven," said Byers.
On Sunday, the wounds are starting to heal.
"God gave them to us to give us love and give us pleasure, and they sure did," said Byers.
Funeral directors say the pet memorial service sparked a lot of interest in the community. They'd like to start doing the event at least once a year.