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New Mexico Company Offers PETA-Themed Coffins

December 11, 2008

A company in New Mexico is building all-wood human coffins in a partnership with People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).

The coffins come with painted slogans, such as “Lifetime PETA Member” or “I saved 500 animals.” One in particular, plays on a long-running PETA advertisement: “Told You I Wouldn’t Be Caught Dead in Fur!”

Each coffin is made of wood and designed to be Earth-friendly, with no screws, nails, hinges or animal-based glues. The company released them for sale last week with prices from $620 to $670, which includes a $75 PETA contribution.

The idea comes from 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.

Genther initially thought PETA wanted to discuss marketing coffins for pets, which her company also builds.

She said PETA then sent her the designs and she noticed the classic toe-pincher style and after that, she realized they wanted human coffins. “I told them, `We can do it.’”

Although not a PETA member, Genther said she supports the organization’s cause.

“The organization has about 2 million members and supporters, suggesting there are plenty of potential customers for PETA-themed coffins,” said Michael McGraw, a PETA spokesman in New York.

“We expect a healthy interest,” he said. “It’s the best way for people to continue to use their voice for animals in death.”

Genther said while some designs might seem irreverent, the PETA coffins aren’t unusual. For years, she noted, funeral homes have offered stylized coffins with such adornments as religious symbols or sports team logos.

But the unusual idea has its supports, like Joan Calpin, a 40-year-old health insurance billing clerk and PETA member in Middletown, Del. She plans to purchase one for herself.

“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.”

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