For animal rights activists, sticking up for furry or feathered critters is a way of life. Now it can be a way of death, too.
A New Mexico company is building all-wood human coffins in a partnership with People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. They bear painted slogans, such as “Lifetime PETA Member” or “I saved 500 animals.”
Another serves up a last laugh that plays on a long-running PETA advertisement: “Told You I Wouldn't Be Caught Dead in Fur!”
The coffins, which went on sale last week, are priced from $620 to $670, which includes a $75 PETA contribution. Made of wood, they are designed to be Earth-friendly, with no screws, nails, hinges or animal-based glues.
They are assembled by Dienna Genther, 44, a former construction worker from Bellingham, Wash., who operates a company called The Old Pine Box in rural Edgewood, about 30 miles east of Albuquerque. She began handcrafting coffins from pine, cedar, maple and other woods in 2004.
When initially contacted, Genther thought PETA wanted to discuss marketing coffins for pets. Her company builds those, too.
“But then they sent the designs, the classic toe-pincher style, and I realized they wanted human coffins,” she recalled. “I told them, `We can do it.'”
Genther is not a PETA member but, “I support their cause.”
Michael McGraw, a PETA spokesman in New York, said the organization has about 2 million members and supporters, suggesting there are plenty of potential customers for PETA-themed coffins.
“We expect a healthy interest,” he said. ”It's the best way for people to continue to use their voice for animals in death.”
While some designs might seem irreverent, the PETA coffins aren't unusual, Genther said. For years, she noted, funeral homes have offered stylized coffins with such adornments as religious symbols or sports team logos.
Joan Calpin, a 40-year-old health insurance billing clerk and PETA member in Middletown, Del., plans to buy one.
“It's a great idea,” she said. “For myself and a lot of my friends who are activists, everybody always says, `All my life, I've helped animals.' Well, now you can say it even after your life is over. You're still helping animals.”