Information for Veterinary Practices

Advice on the Selling of Pet Cremation Services

The selling of pet cremation services through veterinary practices has a chequered history in line with the poor practices that have and still do feature in the pet cremation sector. If you are selling these services then please consider the following points.

1) Cremation services fall under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations.

This means that the service must be fully described. The client must be aware of what they are purchasing, have sufficient time to make an informed decision and  not be pressed into making a decision when they are in a state of emotional distress.

Cremation is a largely subjective term and can mean different things ton different people. However for most the term relates to a human cremation and without an explanation this is the service that would need to be sold. However there are many different forms of service in the pet cremation business so it is important that the following  processes are clearly described and that clients have a written description before making a decision.

How the pet is stored at the veterinary surgery
How the pet is transported to the crematorium. The handling is one of the most important considerations for most pet owners so this must  be correctly described. In particular, the fact that waste may be transported with their pet will be unpleasant for most people.
How the pet is stored at the crematorium awaiting cremation.
How the cremation is carried out.
How will the ashes be presented and when will they be ready.

It is also important to quote a detailed price to the client. We support the RCVS in requiring a breakdown of fees and recommend cremation services be billed at cost and additional services such as storage and administration be identified. This is in keeping with normal practice for funeral directors and adheres to the spirit of the law.

Clients must be made aware that they can make their own arrangements otherwise you may be liable to a charge of distress selling.

2) The regulations governing the process only cover disposal of the animal carcass. 

All pet crematoriums fall under the Animal By Products Regulations which is a E.U. Regulation. However this only approves a site for basic disposal of animal carcasses by incineration. No attention is placed on the performance of cremation services for clients. It is a legal requirement that the pet crematorium be approved under the ABPRs but it is no assistance in choosing a pet cremation service. The Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations are the only ones that have an impact on the performance of cremation services. The standards set by the Association of Private Pet Cemeteries & Crematoria are the only meaningful ones that provide distinctions between cremation and disposal services.

3) When you sell a cremation service to a client you are making a contract of sale. 

Any subsequent problems will be your responsibility and the client will bring any complaints to you or in extreme cases legal action against you.

4) Only the ashes of a client’s pet may be returned to them. 

This means there must be scrupulous procedures to ensure all ash to be returned to a client is collected before another cremation takes place. Ashes from communal cremations or disposals must not be returned to clients.

5) There must be a written assurance of procedures. 

Any literature provided by the crematorium must accurately describe their services. A written outline of the process should always be given to the client when a cremation is arranged. As a veterinary practice offering cremation services you have to put a tremendous amount of trust in the crematorium you are using. You have to rely on the crematorium to carry out the work according to their procedures. You have to place as much trust in the crematorium as the client places in you. Always be aware that the service described on a crematorium website may be different to the service they are giving to you. If clients go to the crematorium site they will expect that level of service unless you inform them correctly.

6) Keep waste and cremation service separate.

Pet owners have no interest in the disposal of veterinary waste and would be horrified to collections of waste were being made with their pet. So use a specialist firm for this side of things. Keep the cremation services for specialist pet crematoriums that will give your clients the service they want and make them realise you care about them as well as their pets.

7) Is it worth taking the risk?

If you are not completely sure about cremations then it may be best to offer a simple disposal service and allow clients that want an individual or communal cremation to contact a pet crematorium themselves.


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