by Stephen Mayles. 20 September 2015
This article was published during the past week.
I suppose I can be accused of being biased on this issue but this type of article annoys me. It is not just that it is about pet funerals but that it assumes to speak for everyone without taking into account the fact that people can think for themselves.
Freedom of Choice
Everyone is free to choose how they deal with the death of a pet. Home burial, cremation, burial in a cemetery or even a simple disposal are all possible and valid options. Which one you choose does not reflect on your love or care for your pet – it is how you wish to handle the passing of your companion. Your choice, your right.
But the headline of this article is correct in that many of the services you can purchase are a rip-off. The pet cremation sector has a chequered history where misleading or fraudulent services sit alongside genuine ones with no way of distinguishing which is which. You may well pay £300 (although that would seem rather excessive when you look at our individual pet cremation prices) at your vet for your cat to be taken for an individual cremation and the ashes returned to you. For that, you would expect that he or she would be collected carefully and cremated on their own in the way a human cremation is carried out. In other words, the way we carry out our services.
The real rip-off in pet funerals
Unfortunately, the reality is that they may sit for up to a week in a chest freezer, covered with other pets and bags of clinical waste, be piled into a van and transported vast distances, often along with the waste and be stored in wheelie bins awaiting cremation. The “individual” cremation itself may be poorly carried out without the remains being properly collected or may even have other pets cremated alongside with possible mixing of remains. Of course, you receive a lovely little casket or urn with a sympathetic note and a glossy brochure telling you how wonderful everything is and you naturally believe your pet has been treated the way you wanted when you paid the £300. This happens because the pet cremation sector is dominated by large commercial groups, the customers are captive, distressed people and there is competition to drive down charges to the middlemen who sell the vast majority of cremations. What you don’t know is how much they are paying for the cremation before selling it to you. If you did then you could make a rational judgement about what you could expect for that sum.
So the rip-off is the fact that cremation services are being sold, sometimes with large markups, without proper descriptions being given. This does not follow the requirements of the Consumer Protection Regulations. It would not be such a problem if everything was carried out with respect and exacting technical standards but the competition to provide unrealistic low prices prevents this. Remember, your idea of a cremation may be very different to that of the person supplying the service so you must have full details before you agree to anything.
Bring on an investigation
There is a need for an investigation into this sector by the Office of Fair Trading but that will only come about if pet owners realise they may be getting ripped off and start asking for detailed descriptions of the services they are paying for. If you can’t get that or it does not answer your questions then look elsewhere and let your Trading Standards Office know. We always advise people to go direct to the crematorium and be sure they are satisfied with what they see and are told. Don’t worry, if everything is carried out properly there are no gruesome facts to absorb, just reassurance.
If you go to a vet who uses us for all their cremations then you know everything will be carried out the way we say. But that is only a handful of vets. If not the call us personally to make arrangements and we will be able to help you.
The APPCC Inspections
The Association of Private Pet Cemeteries and Crematoria has always had a strict Code for the members which, when followed, ensures a respectful cremation or burial that does not have to be elaborate. We are now approved under the independent inspection scheme that follows a strict Pet Cremation and Burial Consumer Code to ensure everything is carried out respectfully, with proper technical procedures and that all information is available to clients. In particular, it ensures people have enough time to make an informed decision and do not rush into something when they are in a distressed state.
People may have differing opinions about pet funerals but the real story of pet cremation is above. That is the rip-off. So let’s see a bit more investigative journalism and a little less of the opinionated kind.
If you want to be sure of the best service for your pet when the time comes go along to our registration page and leave your details. It will make things much easier when you eventually need us, no matter how far in the future, and you won’t end up making the wrong decision when you are distressed.