Welcome to The Association of Private Pet Cemeteries & Crematoria - Setting the Standards for Pet Cremation and Pet Burial Services
Who are we?
As far as we are aware we are the only organisation in Europe setting standards for pet cemeteries, crematoria and pet cremation that protect the pet owner and ensure their pet is handled they way they expect. Our membership is made up of genuine pet cemeteries and crematoria as well as pet undertakers and quality product suppliers.
How do the standards protect pet owners?
We know from letters we receive that people expect a certain service when they hear the term pet cremation. They immediately think of the human equivalent. Therefore we set our methods of working to reflect this. When the term cremation is used it should cover the whole process - dignified handling, the actual operation of cremation and where the ashes go afterwards. An owner should be able to either have their pet's ashes back or be able to say 'this is my pet's last resting place'. So, for individual cremation the pet will be cremated on its own in the chamber and the ashes carefully collected before the next cremation starts. For a communal or mass cremation all the ashes will be collected at the end and buried or scattered in a recognised memorial area that an owner may visit. It is simple, straightforward and easy to understand.
But doesn't this happen already?
No. Unless a crematorium is one of our members all kinds of systems may be used to cut costs and increase profits. Various methods of cremating pets together and inferring they are individual are often used. Most of the communal or mass cremations carried out are simple waste disposal operations where the remains go off to a waste site after a large scale incineration.
What is wrong with that?
Nothing if that is what the pet owner has requested. Unfortunately, often owners are not told what happens. Their image of how their pet is treated can be very different to the reality. They often pay for a service they do not receive.
Why aren't pet crematoria more closely controlled?
Pet crematoria are controlled under the Animal By-Product Regulations and Waste Management Licensing or Environmental Permitting. This has caused us many difficulties in the past but with the help of the Environment Agency and Defra we have carved out our own niche within the regulations that allows us to operate as genuine pet bereavement facilities. However, the regulations are designed for waste. This allows any disposal operation to gloss up their services and call themselves by any number of tempting and appealing names. Licensing for Pet Crematoria and Cemeteries is only concerned with the operation as a disposal site. There are no regulations controlling how the cremations should be carried out to ensure the correct ashes are collected, for the dignified handling of the animals or to distinguish between ashes going to a normal disposal site or to a specific memorial area. The standards set by the Association are the only ones that provide this distinction.
But most people arrange the cremation through their vet. Isn't that a guarantee?
Sorry to have to say this but no. Most vets seem to think that all pet crematoria are the same. Therefore they may use whoever gives them the best deal, particularly if it involves a cheap way of collecting their veterinary waste. Unfortunately there is usually a reason why a service is cheap and things are not always what they seem. This is where a vet is taking an enormous risk. If they 'sell' an individual or communal cremation to a pet owner it is the same as any other commercial transaction. They, not the so called pet crematorium, will be responsible to trading standards if that service is miss-sold. Pet owners trust their vets to take care of their animals when they are alive and put their trust in the vet to look after their pets when they die.
But what if a vet does not have one of our members close by?
We realise that we are not able to cover the whole country with our present membership and that a veterinary surgery has a practical problem when it comes to their clients' pets. We have therefore produced a trading standard that clearly describes services on offer. We encourage all vets to carry out a review and 'sell' their services correctly. This will enable pet owners to know exactly what they are paying for and can then choose to use their vet or go elsewhere. Our members are often closer to the pet's home than the service the vet uses.
But are our members' services just too expensive for most people?
No. Our members offer a range of prices. We are not an Association of high end businesses. We look for a basic standard of presentation but our main concern is what happens behind the scenes, ensuring procedures are correctly carried out and the trust of the clients is not abused. Prices to the public often bear little relation to the service they get. The differences tend to be in the profits available to veterinary practices.
But if the people are kind and the ashes well presented isn't that an assurance?
Again, we are sorry but no. Yes, that is part of the cremation process but it does not mean things are correctly handled behind the scenes. Testimonials are no use either. At the moment the only test is membership of our Association. Our members give an assurance they follow our Code of Practice. We are currently finalising a training program to further ensure the standardisation of the backroom operations and we will be following that up with continuing education.
Can all animals be cremated?
All our members can cremate domestic pets from the smallest mouse or bird to the largest dog. We have a number of members who specialise in cremating horses. Regrettably regulations forbid the cremation of sheep, goats and cows in a cremator that is used for returning ashes. The ashes of those animals have to go off to a special site even if they are a treasured pet.