ROMANCE, Ark.--(KTHV) For many of us, our four legged friends are like family. So when they die, it can be devastating. But a growing number of Arkansans are now going to extravagant lengths to forever honor their pets and it's gaining the attention of a major cable network.
In Romance, Arkansas, the population is 246. Besides a Post Office, there is not much in the small White County town. But what is there is about to be in the national spotlight.
"I am the only taxidermist in the state of Arkansas that does this," says Xtreme Taxidermy owner Daniel Ross.
Ross is talking about pet preservation for owners who never want to let go after their companion passes away.
You name it; Ross and his team can freeze dry it and have for people all over the world.
"If you have a pet for 18 years, yeah its part of the family," explains Ross.
Right now, Ross' team is working on preserving an iguana.
He adds, "Apparently this iguana sat on the top of a futon and he was looking out the window."
It's frozen in time. The idea is so extreme that Animal Planet took notice. They're filming a reality show with 13 episodes.
Producer Ben Shank says, "Anytime you add people and their stories it makes for a great television show. And it really hasn't been done before."
The freeze dry process takes three to nine months depending on the size of the animal. The pet owner first chooses a position; head up, head down, eyes open or closed. The team removes organs and replaces eyes with glass replicas.
Ross says, "Everything that is freeze dried is injected with a really strong bug proofer."
The animal is then placed in a freeze-dryer to remove all moisture.
"The reaction whey they come to pick up their pet is always a good one," explains Ross.
On the list of preserved pets are rabbits, birds, reptiles. But the most popular are cats and dogs.
"A lot of them [owners] are emotional when they first come in. They are going through a grieving process and that's understandable."
Animal Planet's production crew will be in town for the next few weeks and the first episode will air sometime this year. A show name is still in the works.
Shank says, "Compared to someone like me that lives in Los Angeles you know it's a completely different lifestyle but I think showcasing that to America and opening up to new worlds and new things is what television should be all about."
Its extravagant lengths to forever honor our pets; from Romance, Arkansas, to Hollywood.
"It's just funny how life works sometimes," says Ross.
Daniel and his family will be at the Big Buck Classic at the Arkansas state fairgrounds next weekend. So, you can stop by and say hi.
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