Online memorial adds second site for pets

A Canadian dot-com firm has expanded its business beyond online memorials for friends and family members to create a site exclusively for honouring the lives of pets.

Toronto-based Thursday said it

had launched, through which users can step through a question and answer wizard, and customize the look and uploading text and images for a 100K home page dedicated to a former pet. These tributes can be set up and run free of charge for 12 weeks. Pages with more images that are to be hosted more permanently will require a small fee to cover maintenance costs, the company said, the proceeds from which will go to humane societies in Canada and the United States. launched in late 2000 to provide a similar service for deceased people, but has since broadened its mandate to host online wills and estate planning.

“”We actually found that a good portion — probably more than half of the memorials –were created for pets,”” said CEO Tim Hewson. “”I think that creating an online memorial for a person — this is my own personal theory — sometimes you have to get approval from a number of people, whereas for a pet it’s a very personal thing.””

A number of these memorials have since been moved to the new pets-only site. Hewson said the site isn’t intended to make money, adding it wouldn’t be tasteful to demand high fees. “”Obviously, it’s hard for us to give away service space and time,”” he said. “”We do look for some fees if people want to expand that, where you can put video clips up and things like that.””

While dot-com companies that provided a range of other services have since crashed and burned, the last few years have seen a proliferation of online memorial portals, including, and

Ron Mills, president of, said his site doesn’t offer pet tributes because its memorials are designed to help families research and track their geneology. Though he won’t be a competitor, Mills said the timing for something like’s subsidiary may be opportune.

“”I read an article about two years ago that said the pet business was going to be the business to get into in the next few years,”” he said.

Hewson said PartingWishes will continue to build its primary business through online wills, which he hopes will get a boost if legislation surrounding digital signatures eventually allows users to sign wills over the Internet. In the meantime, will be promoted through cross-linking with other sites and through search engines.

“”At this point it’s too early to say we would have enough revenue to spend money on advertising,”” he said. “”It’s a very delicate subject . . . We almost want it to be a self-discovery when they’re trying to find a suitable tribute.””

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