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Meet Brian and Deanna Kondrath and Mark McDaniel of Paws and Claws Aquamation and Memorials in Orange County

Today we’d like to introduce you to Brian and Deanna Kondrath and Mark McDaniel.

Brian, Deanna, and Mark, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
Brian: I’ve always wanted to open a pet crematory. We’re pet owners that consider our pets family members, not just pets. I am a licensed funeral director and embalmer, so I wanted to start our own business to give pet parents a better experience. A service people can trust, Since the pet industry isn’t regulated, I wanted to bring over all the best practices that I have learned in the past 25 years as a funeral director/embalmer to the pet aftercare industry. When I started seeing Alkaline Hydrolysis (aquamation) in the funeral trade magazines more and more, I learned aquamation is a green alternative to a highly polluting industry (fire cremation). So then I was inspired to really make this happen.

Deanna: As long as Brian and I have known each other, Brian has always wanted to open a pet crematory. And since I was a little girl, I always knew I would have lots of pets. Brian, our son Mark and I have the same outlook — that pets are a necessity in life, not an option.

Following is some of our professional and academic background. Because realistically, even if we have the biggest hearts to care for pets and an incredible amount of compassion and empathy for the families during one of the most difficult times they will experience, we also need to have the knowledge, ability and experience to make it happen.

So, by chance the three of us together have created the perfect combination for this business.

Brian has been in the human funeral industry for about 25 years. He has a degree in Mortuary Science and holds California state licenses as an embalmer, a crematory manager, a funeral director and a cemetery manager, which gives Brian the foundation to deal with death and the resulting body in an ethically and humane way.

I have a B.S. degree in accounting and worked for about 20 years as a corporate accountant, which has given me the background to tackle the business side.

Mark has the scientific brain, which has enabled him to obtain a B.S. degree in Animal Science which helps him to grasp the chemistry associated with aquamation, and also to be able to start his veterinarian school applications.

So the pet crematory was always something that was in the future for us. And while we were positioning ourselves to make this jump to small business owners, Brian was seeing the process of aquamation gaining popularity and due to its eco-friendly and clean properties, we then decided we would pursue an aquamation facility instead of a flame crematory.

Has it been a smooth road?
Opening this business has been an incredible challenge. Our biggest obstacle is the misinformation out there regarding aquamation. Aquamation is a green alternative to fire cremation. It mimics the way Mother Nature would decompose a body naturally.

Aquamation uses warm water and alkaline powder during a 20-hour cycle to reduce the body to the mineral ash of the bone. The remaining water consists only of nutrients, such as sugar, peptides and amino acids. It makes a great fertilizer actually. It’s science. It’s chemistry. But it has been a challenge to spread the word about what the process yields.

Another obstacle was the permits needed to open the facility, the expense to get the machine and supporting mechanisms in place. Since we were the first aquamation facility in Orange County we had to bear the burden of enlightening and educating not just government agencies, but also the general public. Brian and I tell each other when we are reminiscing, “if we had known how much work it would be, we never would have done it!”

We are the only facility in our area 100% dedicated to aquamation only, So to be a pioneer in our area involved lots of legwork and diligence to explain aquamation and its tremendous benefits not only to the pets, but also to the environment.

But now that we are open and running, we wouldn’t change a thing. This is the perfect business for us. And it fulfills something inside us that has been missing in our professional and personal lives.

So, as you know, we’re impressed with Paws and Claws Aquamation and Memorials – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
Paws and Claws Aquamation and Memorials is a pet aftercare facility. We are family owned and operated.

The aquamation process is 100% green, and unlike fire cremation, creates no toxic emissions. It does not pollute or contribute to greenhouse gases. It uses significantly less electricity and natural gases than fire cremation. Therefore, the process is also gentle on our environment. The liquid byproduct of aquamation contains no chemicals and is actually an effluent that consists of micronutrients that benefit wastewater treatment plants.

In addition, aquamation is a most effective way to destroy infectious viruses and toxins. All pathogens and chemicals are eliminated in the process of aquamation. This includes disease, chemicals from chemotherapy and drugs used in euthanasia.

We offer both private and communal aquamations. With a private aquamation, the bone remains will be processed, then returned to the family in an urn. With a communal aquamation, we will not return the ashes, but will scatter the ashes at sea.

The cost of aquamation is comparable to fire cremation.

I hope we are known for our kindness to help pet parents through the difficult journey of aftercare. I truly feel that if a family chooses our facility for their pet’s aftercare, they can be assured no one will take better care of their pet. That is our goal – to honor one’s pet, and to give pets the respect and dignity they deserve, just as their family did in life.

We were the first pet aquamation facility in our area (the Orange County area). It was a very hard road to get our aquamation facility permitted as the pioneer in the area. Also, it has been a challenge to get the word out regarding aquamation and letting people know there is a green alternative to fire cremation available. We try to participate in pet related events so that we can get the word out about our services. We know it can be a sensitive subject, but we want people to know us and our process before they need it. And these are things we are very proud of accomplishing.

Also, we offer beautiful memorials and custom urns. These are items people love once they realize they exist. We could not have offered these items without Brian’s knowledge and experience within the funeral industry.

Something that has had a profound effect on us and our business…When we were first going through the permitting process, we lost our Anatolian Shepherd to copper toxicosis suddenly, and it has forever changed us.  It has made this business so much more personal for us. She was our first dog as a family. And to this day we miss Blitz terribly. But in hindsight, we believe her fate was a short life, so that we could truly have genuine compassion for families that lose a pet. Losing her was one of the hardest things we’ve ever gone through.

Let’s touch on your thoughts about our city – what do you like the most and least?
What we like best is that we are centrally located. There’s lots of opportunities for business and pleasure. You can be at the beach in the morning, then be in the mountains in the afternoon if you want. There’s hiking, beaches, lot of stuff to do with pets.  Businesses are becoming more pet friendly also, like restaurants and hotels.

Least, that’s easy…traffic!!


  • Private Aquamations range from $200-$400 depending on the size of the pet.
  • Communal Aquamations start at $100.

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Getting in touch: VoyageLA is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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