Should I arrange my pet’s cremation through a vet?
The answer to this is the old “Caveat Emptor” or “Buyer Beware”. You are responsible for ensuring the service you are getting is the one you are expecting and want for your pet. A lack of regulation and information in the pet cremation sector has led to highly variable standards and interpretations of pet owners’ wishes. Whether you are making arrangements through a third party or going direct to the crematorium you need to ensure you have a full description of the service and the way your pet will be handled.
Having said that, you should not be rushed into a decision while you are still reeling from the shock of losing your pet. It should always be made clear to you that you do not have to use the service the vet provides. You can make your own arrangements. Usually this is the more satisfying and reliable option, particularly if there is no information available. This is the unfortunate case with so many surgeries.
Is the service the best for you or the best for your vet?
The service your vet uses may not be the one they would choose for themselves. A significant number of surgeries are now owned by large corporate groups. These have contracts with very large central cremation and disposal organisations. When the groups take over surgeries they will change to these services, often despite the wishes of the staff.
It is not only the corporate groups that do this. Individual vets may have contracts with buying groups who also have contracts with these firms.
It is common for collections of pets to be linked with collections of veterinary waste. These are often in the same vehicle, sometimes even mixed together. It is worth asking your vet if the same people take both pets and waste. That fact alone is likely to indicate a service chosen for convenience and profit rather than what is best for clients. This may influence your decision to use them or not.
Do you really know what the service involves?
Whichever service your vet uses they should have full information. This should cover how your pet is stored, how it will be collected, transported and kept awaiting cremation and how the cremation takes place. In particular, they should have information on how carefully the ashes are collected after an individual cremation.
If you are having a communal cremation then what happens to the ashes? Often they go to a landfill site but even if they go to a memorial area you need to be happy about the way the pets are handled. For example, do you believe that being piled in a van and heaped into a large incinerator constitutes a respectful cremation service even if the ashes go to a memorial area? Although this information is required under Trading Standard Regulations, sadly, it is rarely available to you.
If in doubt go to the Professional Association
If the information is not available and you want a respectful cremation for your pet then the best solution is to contact a crematorium. The starting point should be a member of The Association of Private Pet Cemeteries and Crematoria. Members only use the term “cremation” for respectful, dignified services that handle your pet carefully and ensure proper procedures are carried out for either an individual or communal cremation. They are independently inspected to ensure this.
Your vet may have used us before but may not now
The number of vets who use our services is dwindling as so many are bought out by these corporate groups. We still have some who want the best for their clients. If you have had a cremation with us through your vet in the past do not expect a future pet to come to us as changes in ownership happen very quickly and quietly. Always check. If the service has changed and you want us to take care of your pet then contact us direct.
Vets who use our services
We provide all veterinary surgeries who use our services with our brochures outlining in detail every aspect of our services and the way your pet will be handled. On the immediate inside pages we give you all the important information that you need to arrange a cremation, making sure you know that you are not compelled to use us, that the surgery will need to pass your details to us and that we may need to contact you. It advises on the services on offer, full details of which are further in the brochure, and informs you about arrangements for collection and payment. All prices are clearly shown in the brochure.
If you use one of our vets then your pet will receive the same care from us as if you contact us direct. We help surgeries out with refrigeration so they are able to look after pets carefully but they have limited space and your pet will not necessarily have the same generous facilities as we have at our premises. This may influence your decision but you may wish to view this against the additional cost of single collection.
The choice of how your pet is handled is up to you. We are here to carry out your wishes.