When the Cooper family decided to start their own small business, they wanted to incorporate their love of animals and their passion for helping people with animals.
Leonard Cooper is a former wildlife field supervisor with the Arizona Game and Fish Department, while his son L.J. has several years of experience in the funeral industry. Leonard Cooper’s wife, Jane, was an elementary schoolteacher for 30 years.
The Coopers’ love for animals and L.J. Cooper’s funeral experience led the family to open All Pets Great & Small Cremation Service on Horne in Mesa. They opened the business in January after more than two years of preparation, including buying a building and equipment, and obtaining the necessary permits from various governmental entities.
“My son always wanted to go into business for himself and he thought this would be an ideal business,” Leonard Cooper said. “We’ve always been pet lovers. We’ve always had dogs and cats at the house. When I was working for Game and Fish, I brought baby javelinas home . . . to get them rehabilitated. I’ve had bears in our yard in cages, as well as eagles, hawks and everything else. We’ve always been around animals and love taking care of animals, and this is one way we can help people. When they lose a pet, they need some help and we’re very understanding about that.”
The business’ brochure promises “the handling of your pet will be respectful and gentle.”
L.J. Cooper said while working in the funeral industry he noticed there were no pet cremation businesses located in the East Valley. Veterinarians offer the service, but the cremations are handled outside the region.
He lives in Mesa while his parents live in Roosevelt.
“I kind of like that idea of doing a service for people,” L.J. Cooper said. “I wanted to basically do it for people with pets and there’s nothing in the East Valley for them.”
Opening the business took a lot more time and money than originally expected because “it’s not a run-of-the- mill business,” Leonard Cooper said.
“You’re very restricted as far as where you can have this,” he said. “It almost has to be in an industrial park. The equipment is real expensive. Getting a gas line into the building was a big expense, and then we had to cut several holes for ventilation. We had to hire a crane to drop down the chimney through the roof so we could attach it to the machine. Every machine has to be tested to make sure it’s not pumping out any high levels of carbon monoxide or any polluting type particles, and that cost over $5,000 just to have that test done.”
Business was slow when the crematory first opened, but it has since contracted with a mobile vet service and a transport company that serves about 14 veterinary offices in the Valley, Leonard Cooper said.
“We do have a lot of customers who do come in off the street. They’re a lot closer to this site than most of the others,” he said.
“We’re set up where we deal directly with the pet owners if that’s their desire. We’ve had some people come down here and look, and say one of their pets is not going to make it, is going to pass away in a week or two, and they just want to check out the facility. They’re more than welcome to come down and visit.”