CROTON, Mich. (WOOD) — If you are a pet owner, you get it: Many don’t want to let go after losing a pet.

Brenda Lee Stepp lost Lil Mr. Murphy, her much-loved dachshund, in 2020.

“He was my soul pup. I called him my soul pup because he comforted me and … he was just always there,” Stepp, of Atlanta, Georgia, said.

She loved the rescue dog so much she couldn’t face burying her beloved pet. 

That’s when she found Andrea Huntley. Huntley owns Freeze Dry C and Company out of Newaygo, whose services include freeze-drying pets for owners who want to keep their memories alive. 

Huntley, listed under the name Andrea Huntley Sawinski on the National Taxidermy Association website, says she’s been at the trade since 2012.

It’s not traditional taxidermy. Freeze-drying exact liquids from the animal, allowing the pet to stay closer to its live form.

“The bones are still exactly as they were and the pet is exactly as it was when it died,” Stepp said while describing the process.

Stepp contacted Huntley and in September of 2020, drove the over 800 miles from Atlanta to Croton.

She paid Huntley $1,500 cash to freeze dry Lil Mr. Murphy.

The process was supposed to take about ten months. Stepp anxiously awaited the return of her pet.

A year went by.

“Eventually, she reached out and said, ‘Hey, I’ve had delays and so forth and so on,'” Steep said.

The delays continued into early 2022.

“When I reached out to her, she essentially said, ‘Leave me alone,'” Stepp said.   

Stepp’s not alone.

The Better Business Bureau gives Huntley’s C and Company Taxidermy a ‘F’ rating and includes comments from several people with stories similar to Stepps.

“Basically, she takes people’s money, and she takes their beloved pet, and you never hear from her again,” Stepp said.

News 8 went to Newaygo to get Huntley’s side of the story.

No one answered the door at the home Huntley lists on her business website and no one answered the phone number listed on the site.

Stepp has filed a complaint with Michigan State Police, and troopers from the Hart Post are investigating.

For those awaiting the fate of their departed pet, it’s more than just frustration. It’s like losing her loved one twice.

“There’s no closure in this situation,” Stepp said. “And it’s just heart-wrenching.”