Dare County’s first pet crematorium opens 

By on February 7, 2024

Rainbow Bridge give pet owners choices in ‘post-life care’

Pam Anderson and one of her pets.

In opening the first pet crematorium in Dare County this month, Rainbow Bridge in Colington, co-owner Pam Anderson said she wanted to give owners more choices in the final care of their beloved pet.

According to Anderson, typically, when a pet dies in Dare County, veterinarians have a preferred crematorium they work with in locations like Virginia Beach and pet owners aren’t often a part of the decision-making process of which crematorium to use, how much it will cost, or when they will get their pet back.

“This whole thing was born out of what my experience was as a pet owner and what I didn’t like about the whole process [of cremation] and trying to bring what I felt was better as a pet owner into this process,” says Anderson.

Among the services offered at Rainbow Bridge, owners can choose if they want their pet picked up or if they would like to bring it themselves, whether they would like a communal, semi-private or private cremation, what type of urn they would like, as well as other services, such as celebration of life and grief counseling. The pet’s ashes are returned within two days.

The Andersons have also set up an endowment with Coastal Humane Society to donate $5 from each pet cremation for a cremation fund. They are also in the process of working on a program where after the loss of a pet, pet owners can contact a local rescue and sponsor an adoption or foster fee for a pet in need in honor of their deceased pet. The donation would then be honored on the rescue’s website with a note that the foster fee is sponsored ‘In Memory Of…’.

This isn’t the Andersons’ first experience in pet-related businesses. She and her husband Paul also run Ocean Sands K-9 Resort and V.I.P. Pet Taxi, an exclusive transportation service for pets only. But over the years, Anderson noticed issues arising from not having a local pet crematorium. With the closest crematoriums being in places like Virginia Beach, Anderson says pets are often frozen because it could take up to a week or two weeks for them to get picked up and it can be a while before the owner gets the ashes back.

When Anderson got the idea to start the business, pet crematoriums were something that Dare County did not allow, so she and her husband went through a lengthy process to change that.  They worked with the county commissioners for a year and half on a text amendment process. And in November 2022, the Dare County Board of Commissioners unanimously approved a request for a zoning text amendment that would allow for pet crematoriums as an accessory use to pet grooming and kennel facilities in certain areas of Colington.

Now, a little over a year later, the doors are open. And as Anderson explains, when a pet passes either at the veterinarian’s or at home, owners can go straight to the website and see all of the prices and fill out paperwork, or they can give them a call.

“We pick up the pet and take care of everything from then on for the parents. Everything is meant for ease of use and transparency,” says Anderson, adding that they offer grief counseling and celebration of life ceremonies which can be organized by Rainbow Bridge or the owner. “It’s a way to sometimes help people ease their grief,” she says.

Rainbow Bridge also allow owners to bring their pet to the facility themselves and gives them the option to watch the cremation. Anderson works with a local potter who designs special handmade lighthouses and other nautical-themed urns that add a special touch.

“I had a lady I spoke to recently…it’s been sixteen years and she’s still grieving over this cat. And we all have those pets that, you know, it’s hard for us to let go. But if we can do things like help with celebration of life ceremonies and spreading ashes, or designing a beautiful lighthouse, sea turtle or starfish ash holder, it gives them a choice in how to care for their pet” says Anderson.

“That’s how I approached this cremation service was to put that control back in the pet owners’ hands of their pets’ post-life care,” she added.

For more information visit Rainbow Bridge website.


  • WindyBill

    Congratulations to the Andersons for forward thinking on a seriously needed service!

    Wednesday, Feb 7 @ 1:20 pm
  • Charles

    Live in rural middle Tennessee and thus can and do have a cat cemetery on my property. One of my senior cats died recently and because of freezing and sub-zero weather I’ve been unable to bury him; so he is in the freezer. Certainly if I lived in a highly populated area I would welcome a pet crematory nearby. Even absent such, I’ve had several cats cremated over time working with my vet. Hope this venture works out well for all concerned.

    Wednesday, Feb 7 @ 3:34 pm
  • surf123

    @Charles…my brother-in-laws dog died while he was out of town and his wife bagged and put it in the freezer until he got home. I never did ask if they kept using the freezer after that.

    Thursday, Feb 8 @ 12:04 am