06 May May 06, 2016

What happens to my pets if I don’t have an individual cremation or burial?

APPCC 0

Although more people are opting for an individual cremation the majority of pet owners still don’t really like to think too closely about the matter. They allow their vet to take their pet away and like to feel that things are being handled properly. The question is are they?

We are committed to ensuring you receive the service you are expecting and are paying for. If your vet says your pet will go for communal or mass cremation you have a right to expect them to receive a cremation service, to be handled decently and for their remains to be interred or scattered over a memorial area. This may be a Cemetery or it may be a meadow or woodland but you should expect them to be dealt with respectfully.

Unfortunately this rarely happens. Most companies using these terms will be collecting large quantities of bodies in bags, piling them into the back of a lorry and often taking them many miles to a large incinerator. Here they are heaped into the incinerator. Once finished the remains are loaded into covered skips and taken to a waste site. Sometimes they are buried in the grounds of a cemetery to give the service some kind of credibility but this masks the process that has gone before. All this is carried out according to the current regulations and is perfectly legal but is it really the service most people have in mind when they are told their pets are going for cremation? We don’t think so.

To adhere to the Association Code for a communal cremation then the handling should be similar to the individual cremation service.  Pets should not be piled one on top of the other. Although a number of pets may be transported together they should still be handled respectfully and placed side by side. The same applies to the cremation where they should be carefully placed alongside one another in the unit. At the end the ashes should be collected and interred or scattered in a memorial area.

If you want a dignified cremation it is best to use a crematorium that has a small chamber machine with just a few pets placed in there at a time. Once you start using large furnaces you are getting back to disposal handling operations.

So we have two very different services that are being sold as the same thing. This situation has arisen because there has been an attitude that what people don’t know can’t upset them and because large scale disposal is a cheaper alternative to cremation. In truth there has been, and still is, a lack of crematoria carrying out proper communal cremation services but that is no reason to mislead people. It is time that pet owners were also treated with respect and allowed to make their own decisions about their animals.

It may be argued that large scale incineration makes better use of fuel and is therefore better for the environment but in fact the differences are small. You also have to take into consideration the distances travelled which may be many hundreds of miles to some of the larger plants. Most importantly you have to consider if this is what you want. A small local crematorium is often the better alternative. If your vet does not use a member of the Association of Private Pet Cemeteries & Crematoria then we suggest you make your own arrangements for anything other than simple disposal.

If you are searching for a pet cremation service on the internet you will find that most of the websites now look very slick and professional. However, do not go by appearances, personalities or testimonials. It is what actually happens that is important and our members have all agreed to work to a strict code that ensures pet owners are protected. If a glossy website does not have our logo then you should ask why.

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