The Pet Cremation Conspiracy Theory and the Hardest Lesson I Have Ever Learned

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My Angel

My Angel

I hate conspiracy theories, I am not a believer but I think I have uncovered one!

This is probably the hardest article I have ever written.  Usually writing comes pretty easily to me, don’t get me wrong I have my bad days and my writers block days where I want to write but clear thoughts don’t really enter my mind in a coherent way; but this article is different.

It has taken me 7 months to get to a place where I could even contemplate writing it and it breaks my heart, but I am hoping my story will save other people the heart ache I have gone through.

As many of you know, my “angel in fur” my “furry soul mate” my “heart dog” died in September of last year.

Cancer had invaded his lungs and I didn’t know until it was too late, I woke up he was having trouble breathing and he had to be euthanized that day;  he had been so stoic that there was no warning that he had been battling cancer.

A piece of me died that day, a big piece.

Euthanizing your pet, your family member is hard enough, it is devastating to say good bye and I realized it is almost equally hard to pick up your pet’s ashes post euthanasia and cremation; but I had always wanted to be buried with my special dog when I died.

I was a vet tech for many years, so I guess I just trusted the veterinary/cremation process and took some of my knowledge and expectations for granted.  I made sure after my dog had been euthanized that I would be getting him individually cremated and that I would get just his remains… I paid for that, but I didn’t drill the ER clinic about who they contracted with and what my expectations of his treatment post death would be;  I assumed that the rituals I had known as a vet tech were standard in all/most (especially a well- known ER clinic) within the veterinary world.

I guess this was my mistake and I am here to make sure it is not yours.

When I went to pick up my baby’s ashes, he had been disposed of in a Ziploc bag, which had then been put in a velvet bag; however  the Ziploc bag had sustained several holes in transit and so his ashes had spilled out into the velvet bag and to add insult to injury there was no documentation of substance.  There was a tiny paper hand written tag that had been looped onto the bag with his name on it, but that was it.

There was no information or certificate on when he died, who had cremated him and when, how much he weighed or any kind of certification at all; no metal tags that had followed his body through the process… there was just nothing.me kissing nix

I was livid.  As a former veterinary technician I knew that a good crematory has the veterinary hospital tag the body with a metal tag and this tag and number follows the body through the cremation process to provide some kind of documentation to the individual cremation.

I of course complained to the veterinary clinic, to my regular veterinary clinic, and to any other veterinary clinic that would listen.

But NO ONE CARED

As I did more research into the pet crematory business I learned that most people don’t realize and honestly most people don’t want to know that there are really no regulations for pet crematories.  This is a multi-billion dollar service and NO ONE is regulating it, not state veterinary board, not the department of agriculture, animal control, there is literally no governing body that regulates or sets standards for pet cremations.

You think you are paying for a “private or individual” cremation (depending on the lingo of the chosen pet crematory) but in most cases you are getting “co-mingled” ashes with several other pets and sometimes other animals. Even though people think they are paying to get ONLY their dog back.

Pet crematories are nothing like human crematories.

If another human was found in the incinerator of a human crematory, officials would be calling for the shutting down of the business and the business owner would be looking at mandatory prison time.

But that is not the case with animals.

Who Else's Ashes Do I Have??

Who Else’s Ashes Do I Have??

Pet crematories claim that they can safely separate the ashes with barriers and cremate several pets at once, but if that were true why then is it not allowed for people??  And why is it not regularly disclosed to pet owners who think they are only getting their pet back.

The Problem with most Pet Crematories is…

The problem is that most pet crematories contract with vet clinics not the pet owner.  You leave your beloved pet with the vet (thinking he will be in good hands) and the crematories pick up animals in mass quantities.  The vet clinic has no knowledge of what happens behind closed doors and may even believe that your pet will get individual treatment;  they may have even visited the crematory or witnessed a private cremation, but that does not ensure that that is how the business is regularly run (everyone is on good behavior when visitors are there).

The Sad Fact is…

The Actual Bag with Holes

The Actual Bag with Holes

The veterinary practices make money, usually a percentage, on the cremation of your pet, and the crematory with the best price gets the most business… but in order to meet demands many crematories fall to fraud; communally cremating a mass amount of dogs and then giving pet owner some of the cremains of whatever animal or animals were incinerated.

In many cases the vet hospitals don’t even realize it; and if questioned they are reluctant to switch providers because of the amount of profit they make from the cremation.

I am not saying all vets are crooked or that all crematories are bad.  Just that there are no regulations, and most people are driven by money. I’m sure there are people with good ethics out there trying to be ethical.

This would be like human hospitals taking control of the loved one of someone who died and contracting to dispose of the remains without the approval or knowledge of the family or knowing where the remains are going.

Most pet owners don’t even know the name of the cremation business until they pick up the ashes, in their state of shock and sadness they trust their veterinary clinic to contract with someone who is reputable, I know I did.

But I will never again leave my pet to be taken care of by someone else.  Even when I tried to research the business and I searched pet crematoriums in this area, this business doesn’t even come up.  No website, no listing, no yellow pages add, the only listing is for a kennel the same people run.  The vets seem to be the only ones that even know these people provide this service?  This also makes me question their integrity as does the fact that the business owners own several other businesses that provide a variety of services, one being carcass removal for the highway department.

The ER clinic doesn’t want to get involved because they don’t want to lose money and have to hire a more credible but more expensive crematorium.

Because of the bad business practices of one crematory their actions have forced me to research this business and who regulates it… and the answer is really NO ONE.

Although I have logged complaints with vets, the BBB, Consumer Relations, the State Veterinary Board, and the Attorney General no one wants to take action, admit fault, or make a change.

After a major lawsuit, Illinois enacted a law after fraud was found to run rampant with crematories in the state, but the law still allows for the presence of “other” cremains with the pet (and no amount is stated), so private or individual cremations are still not ensured and businesses are protected by law.

Do the Math

Nix at RiverWhen I spoke to a local pet crematorium sharing my story and searching for information they informed me that it takes several hours to cremate just one small to medium sized pet.  Running two incinerators all day, I was told they could only cremate a maximum of 8 pets per day (small to medium sized) and larger pets would of course take longer.

The incinerator needs to heat to the appropriate degree, cremate the pet efficiently, and then cool down for ashes to be collected.

The numbers of pets taken in, and pets returned usually just doesn’t add up!

And, it is expensive with the costs of energy, fuel and manpower.

And When I Contacted the Media?

No one wants to help.

Even though I did the research and I can prove that there is a large amount of fraud in the pet cremation business and I can even prove that the remains that I received back weigh more than they should for a pet of his size, no one wants to get involved.

Many people don’t want to think, or know that the boxes of remains around their homes are not really their pet.

A friend of mine in another state also had her large dog (80#) euthanized and cremated the same week I lost my boy, and when her dog was returned the cremains weighed the same as her cremated cat (10#).  A friend of hers had also shared that when his wife went to find the metal piece from an earlier surgery in the ashes and it was missing, they too knew the ashes they had received were not those of their family pet.

And I have heard countless stories of others who know the remains they got back weren’t their pet.   The only avenue pet owners are left with is privately suing the cremation company, but since these businesses are not forced to keep records there is often no way to prove a claim.

Several exposes have been done on this kind of business but on a small level find more stories to validate my claim that I will link at the end of this article for those who are interested.

So What Can You Do if You Want Your Pet Individually Cremated?

urn1Do your own research!!!  Don’t go through your vet, no matter what they say or how much you love them.  They may not know!

I even question the crematory our old clinic used when I was a tech… although I had visited during an open house, I have no idea what really happens and I learned that metal tags are a good sign but not insurance.

It was too late, but I did my research after the fact.

I visited crematories and spoke with staff.  Most places will allow you to make your own arrangements with them that can help give you piece of mind.  Most of these businesses will also pick up your pet, even if your vet doesn’t usually contract with them.

However I have also learned that there is no way to know for sure unless you are there.

As distasteful as it sounds unless you can see inside the incinerator, watch your pet go in, and stay throughout the process in the room, there is no way to be 100% sure that you are only receiving your pet’s ashes.

There is only one cremation service that I could find at the time of my research that provided a 2 camera recorded certification to ensure that what you are seeing on video is what is truly happening.

As a Naughty Baby

As a Naughty Baby

Pets are no longer just “possessions or property” to most people, they are family and they deserve dignity in their lives as well as their death.

I wonder how many pet owners wish to be buried or sprinkled with what they think is their pets remains?

I will never be able to get him back, and my heart will hurt about that for the rest of my life.  I will also always blame myself…

What would you have done?

Please share this information, perhaps together we can make a difference and make sure this doesn’t happen to anyone else.  This is and will always be one of the most painful things I have to deal with knowing I will never have my dog and just his ashes.

Maybe if this article circles the country and the globe enough times together we can change some laws and make pets matter!

 

 

 

http://www.sitnews.us/0705news/071105/071105_shns_petcrematory.html

 

http://articles.chicagotribune.com/1999-05-06/news/9905060222_1_pet-owners-pet-cemeteries-urn

 

http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2001-04-04/news/0104040266_1_pet-funeral-directors-pet-lovers-pet-cremation

 

http://www.urnsonsale.com/pet_cremation.htm  Note on this one 2, 3 or 4 pets may be cremated as “private cremation”

 

There are 162 Comments

  1. I am unable to open the box from UPS that supposedly contains the remains of my best friend, Bandit. I want to believe it is his ashes, but I seriously doubt it. I hated leaving his precious body in the hands of strangers. He had a wonderful life but died a horrible death. Bandit drowned. I will never get over this.

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  2. CBM says:

    My heart aches for all who have experienced this injustice. I just had my precious dog (my child in my heat) put to sleep 3 days ago (a Tuesday). She had a very aggressive form of cancer. Before they started the procedure they told me she would be put in a freezer waiting for the crematorium to pick up all of the dogs that had passed since the last pick up, without even asking me what my wishes were first. I explained I did not want her cremated and would have a local pet cemetery pick her body up for burial. They looked at me like I had two heads, At that point my husband and I contacted the pet cemetery right then and there to discuss the arrangements with the vet. We were then told by the vet office that she would be picked up today and everything would be fine. Honestly, I am so filled with regret right now, I just felt like they would mess something up and even mentioned just taking her body home with me or directly to the cemetery just so I could know for sure. My husband and parents were there and talked me out it and the vet said to me “we’ll take good care of this kid”, so I relented
    I was just called and informed a few hours ago by the vet office that they went to get her body when the pet cemetery called to state that they were coming and “that her body was gone” that she was mistakenly picked up the very next day after her euthanasia by the crematorium and mass cremated and there are no ashes for me to have. They were so heartless when they told me this, the vet office just kept blaming the crematorium stating “we had a note on her body, they shouldn’t have picked her up”. They then had the gall to say that they would “help pay for another pet adoption” to get another dog, and the crematorium offered to give me an empty urn with her name on it. I am so full of grief, the tears are streaming down my face right now. She did not deserve this final injustice. Please for those of you reading this, personally take care of your precious dogs final arrangements. You can not trust any one else to do it. I hope I will help someone else avoid the regret and heart break I am feeling right now

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  3. Jen Steinman says:

    Thank you so much for this article. I am a licensed funeral director for the state of NJ (#4937) and I just opened a pet funeral home and crematory in Jackson NJ. I cannot tell you how difficult it has been trying to break into this business as the “new kid on the block” with high – very high standards. We DO NOT cremate communally or semi-privately. We ONLY cremate one at a time, EVERY time and allow for the viewing of the process ANY TIME an owner wants to watch. Having these high standards has not made me a popular person among vets, for I am seen as being a “vet basher” when I try to encourage pet owners to bring their pets directly to our facility and not leave them at the vet office so they can know for sure what is happening to their furry one. We also make sure that we return cremains within 24 hours.

    Thanks so much for this article. It was encouragement that I really needed.

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    Minette Reply:

    Share it far and wide to help people recognize what is happening and why there is a need for businesses like yours!

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  4. Rocket says:

    All my previous pets died late into their senior years. They were always home with us at the time of passing and then laid to rest in the back corner of our yard.

    Less than an hour ago, my beloved bunny, Rocket, passed away while at the hospital for an overnight stay. Her heart had stopped moments after I left her and I received the news as I was driving home.

    I was told could of pick up my bunny’s remains at no additional charge to me. I could pay $65 to have her cremated, but if I wanted to keep her ashes it would cost $165.

    Because of your story, I will be picking up my bunny and will put her to rest someplace beautiful. You saved me future heartbreak!
    Thank you!

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    Minette Reply:

    Glad my story could help save you from the trauma I suffered. Sorry for your loss

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  5. I just found your article and I want to tell you how grateful I am to you for writing it.
    I believe that it is a conflict of interest for your veterinarian to chose your pet’s aftercare.
    Seven years ago I lost my beloved kitty of 17 years, I had cared for her for three years during her cancer treatment. Losing her was devastating and left me with a feeling of emptiness after having dedicated most of my time to her care during those years.
    Because burial of pets at home is against city regulations, when she passed away I trusted her veterinarian regarding their choice of crematory services who swore they only provided individual cremation. Years later I found out that the crematory this funeral home used, only had two cremation machines and the volume of pets they were processing at the time was of over 60 pets a day. Knowing that cremation lasts an average of two hours, I realized I had been duped.
    I also found out that veterinarians contract with rendering facilities that process everything in mass, they produce animal feed and other products I can’t comprehend.
    After this shocking revelation, I immediately proceeded to start my own pet aftercare service At Garden’s Edge Pet Aftercare in the Los Angeles area where I endeavor to remain a steward of every pet from the moment I receive their body to the moment I return them to their owner. I provide our clients with a completely transparent service. I use a facility that allows me to view the cremations and personally, my husband and I box and hand deliver to pet owner’s homes every day.
    Our facility processes no more than 3-5 pets a day and we truly operate every aspect of our work with our hearts.
    I am sorry you too experienced this sad loss; moreover, like me, that you were left with the uncertainty of not knowing if your pet’s cremains are really what you received.
    My advice to everyone is to check out with the International Association of Pet Cemeteries and Crematories http://www.iaopc.com to find some form of accreditation or membership your provider may have.
    And lastly, I leave your readers with this question: Would you trust your personal doctor to decide the funeral home your body will be sent to when you pass away?
    My deepest condolences for your loss.
    Teresa Summerville

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  6. Jennifer A Lazik says:

    Oh no! I just read this and I lost my dirbaby January 20th, 2015. It was sudden and I was making the decision as my dog was dying. Now I am so upset. I am patiently waiting for his remains to help me with closure and to have him with me and to know it might not even be him is just destroying what self control I have left. I know now to better plan this for my other dog when it is his time. I am so saddened by this.

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  7. Marinda Pritchard says:

    I’m so sorry! Our first babies were Boxers .. Duke & Dutchess ! We miss them everyday and it’s been over 13 years! We also had our babies cremated , they still are on on our mantel! Miss them so much! I know your pain! They are not just animals or dogs, they are our babies!!!

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  8. Rebecca says:

    I feel the same way that you do! I was given the option at that given time to have ashes return or not. I said, “No, I don’t want the ashes return, because I can’t afford it and my boyfriend and I don’t want our Maya to be un-buried by wild animals.” When I had came to my senses I called the first thing Monday morning regarding to getting my dog ashes, because I manage to scrounge up the money to get the ashes. Now, I’m freaking out wondering if any of it actually is Maya’s ashes. My dog was euthanize on a Saturday and I had called on a Monday. :-( I wish I would have known about this sooner. I wish I had known better and sooner. I just wanted to let you know your not alone. Sorry for you loss of your family member (your pet/companion).

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  9. Krista says:

    You mentioned friends who didn’t find some metal thing from surgery, in their pet’s remains. They actually go through and take out any metal, after cremation. It’s done with magnets a lot of the time. I would guess they wouldn’t want metal in a plastic bag, cutting holes into it.

    I think better regulations are definitely needed, but I trust the vet that had a cremation service they partnered with. Either way, your pet is not there. They have gone to a better place, and are at peace. So even if I were to find out otherwise, and it would be disappointing…so much of your pet is gone in gases etc when they are cremated. You’re only getting a very small amount of them back. Mammals are mostly made up of water. What you get back is a tiny % of what made them up. Just hold tight to the happy memories of your pet and try not to let the conspiracies weigh too heavily on your mind.

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    Minette Reply:

    Actually that is untrue, the metal should have remained in most cases and was in fact part of their dog.

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  10. Joe says:

    I am so sorry for your horrible experience. I am an owner of a pet crematory/funeral home and hear these type stories from clients on a weekly basis. It makes us so sad. A reputable pet crematory would disclose every detail of your pet’s afterlife care. You are right, “how do I know which ones are reputable?”, ask many, many questions, request detailed answers and visit the facility before hand. We strongly encourage all clients to make pre-arrangements. If you’re working through a Veterinarian, ask them if they have toured their cremation service providers facility. If they haven’t, ask why. Again I am sorry for your loss.

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  11. Renee says:

    I am so sorry for the loss of your dog and everything you went through with your dogs ashes. I do have a question. I unexpectedly had to have my dog put to sleep a year ago. I had her buried, but was wanting to have her dug back up to have her cremated so our ashes can be together when I pass away, but my concern is wondering if you think there is a big chance that it would not even be my dogs ashes that I get back. Is there anyway to know for sure? I did have someone that said they would come and get her to cremate her.

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    Minette Reply:

    I had a bad experience. I wouldn’t have another dog cremated unless I could go and be there and watch that he/she is the only one in there and then wait for the duration.

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  12. gh says:

    This makes sense. I had my last cat who died ‘privately’ cremated. I bought a urn, necklace and even had his picture tattooed on me with his ashes soaked into the ink. I’m sure it’s not even my cat, now

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  13. Rachel Johnson says:

    When I lost my girl, black Lab, Misty I got her back in a wooden box with a metal tag riveted onto the box. It had her name and a number on it. I buried it under a tree in my yard and wanted my ashes to be sprinkled on her grave. I guess the best I have now is the hope it is her ashes and that I see her again when I cross over.

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  14. Trista says:

    I literally just went through this last week. My beloved sweet dog was staying with my parents temporarily until we could get a house. This was nice bc after living in an apartment for 3 years I knew shed love being out in the country. Then out of nowhere I get a text (yea.. a text) from my step mother stating she didnt know any other way to tell me, but my sweet Tessa had died that AM and my dad buried her that afternoon.
    Fast forward two days, my boyfriend refuses to let me go get her, and goes and gets her himself, and takes her to Paws & Remember. As soon as they arrived, they tagged her with a metal tag with a specific number on it, and that tag stayed with her throughout the entire process. Inckuded in the cost was a beautiful hand carved wooden box with her name and years lived engraved on it (she was adopted so I didnt have her exact DOB), and inside was a decent sized bag tightly sealed with a zip tie and that, now beat up looking, metal tag. I was also given two smaller baggies to spread her ashes in the mountains where we called home when we vacationed there.
    I couldnt imagine going through what the author went through, or others. There were a few places I looked at that were a little cheaper, but went with this place bc they pride themselves on individual cremations. And the reviews were great! I was also given a tuft of her fur, which is their policy to further prove its your loved pet inside the urn.
    Thank you Paws & Remember for taking such good care of my sweet girl.

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  15. Carrie Schaefer says:

    My baby Geno was a 12 lb. chihauhau mix. He had a heart condition, amongst other things. I brought him into VCA animal hospital in West Sacramento, CA because he couldn’t swallow properly. They told me it may be time, so I had him put to rest. I regret not staying during the procedure, but my 4 year old daughter was with me and I couldn’t stop crying. I just trusted the Vet and left with my daughter while they did the procedure. It was so hard to kiss his head and walk out of the room while he was still alive. Weeks later (4 weeks) I called and asked where his ashes were and they said the crematory still had him and were to deliver him during the weekend. I then called the crematory and they said they never saw him. Then, on a Friday, the manager from VCA said they were going to pick him up on Saturday for me. I called the crematory Saturday around 4 p.m. and the lady said “oh yes, they brought Geno in this morning” I couldn’t believe that VCA lied to me, stating that Geno was at the crematory for 4 weeks. I asked the manager at VCA what happened and why she lied, and she said “we forgot about him in the freezer for 4 weeks”. I insisted a refund, which they gave me $200 out of the $400 it cost for everything. Never really an apology, just kept babbling. So frustrating. To this day I don’t trust that Geno’s ashes are really his. It sickened me to pursue this story further, but I wanted to vent today and let all know. Thank you for listening. Carrie

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  16. Bryn says:

    I’ve been researching the vetrinary and rendering business for a year now and the worst part of the cremation business is that most vetrinary clinics will tell you that your pet will be ctemated and they’ll put them in the freezer but instead of paying to use their cremator they just let the dead truck pick them up and give you left over ashes from previous cremations wihch they keep near the cremator. Its sad but the veterinary clinic will get $$$ for multiple bodies and not have to shell out to use their machine.

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  17. Sean Purdom says:

    Folks, I am the owner of a pet cremation business and I can tell you that not ALL pet cremation providers operate the way many of your comments suggest. The fact of the matter is that we provide cremation services to the vet. We give them all the information, documentation and training that we can. WHAT THE VET CLINIC TELLS THEIR CLIENTELE IS COMPLETELY UP TO THEM. Think about this…how much employee turnover do you see at your specific clinic. I will tell you that the only consistency my clinics have is ME. Turnover is HUGE in the vet industry. Why is this important? Because, the training programs, especially for after-death care are weak to non-existent. Most veterinary employees have NEVER seen the crematorium that they are using. Sad, but true. I deal with the inconsistencies at each of my clinics constantly.

    So, with that said, did you know that you have every right as a pet owner to take your pet from the clinic, after euthanasia and bring your pet to the pet cremation service of your choice? This way, you can research and visit your pets final resting place. I routinely tour families in my facility and describe to them the whole cremation process, including all the documentation that follows the pet.

    So, the next time you have to deal with pet cremation, be a responsible owner and check out all your options.

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  18. tammy moore says:

    i was wondering about something,my baby wintons was put to sleep 4 years ago the place tht done it let me on and just gave him medicane to relax but didnt let me stay while he passed away my heart was broke,when i got his remains they were ina box,which i had to get him out and put him in a special place i had for him but there was bones and other things in the bag it has bothered me forever cause i thought when you got them it was just ashes,i would like to here some input on this their is a story behind him and what happen

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  19. Joanna says:

    Jen,

    Can you tell me the name of your crematory? I live in NJ and am researching places.

    thank you

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  20. Alton Tyler says:

    Hello!
    This was a heart wrenching post and I can’t begin to imagine how you feel! You have my deepest sympathies and respect for your courage throughout your horrible experience! We operate a pet crematory in the Charleston South Carolina area and have heard of very similar experiences as yours. Our jaws drop in disbelief that such practices can and do actually occur! Our whole goal when we opened our facility was to honor our furry friends the same as we do our human friends and loved ones. We believe we do, no….I KNOW WE DO! We only do 100% private pet cremations so that there is and cannot ever be co-mingling of cremains! Period! We operate the machines, we know how they work. Trust me, there is no way, no matter what others might tell you, to separate cremains with a divider and effectively assure that no cremains mix. We have a very thorough tracking process to make sure this happens. We also offer and strongly encourage our clients to visit and take a tour our facility at any time and without prior notice. We have a 100% open door policy! We even encourage our pet families take part in the process if they so desire!

    I know that your post encourages people to share your thoughts; however, I would like to further ask you for your permission to duplicate and publish your thoughts in various outlets, such as facebook and even link it to our web page. We are currently pursuing the possibility of getting our state to enact further regulations in this industry, because it is the right thing to do!!

    Again you have our deepest sympathies for your loss.

    Regards

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    Minette Reply:

    Yes, you are welcome to share this as long as you give me and the dog training secret credit

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  21. Bill says:

    Thank you, Jen Steinman.

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  22. Taylor says:

    I have been researching for awhile because my Chaweenie of 14 years has gone wobbly and deaf. I want to cremate him when the time comes, unfortunately we are in those years. I want him in the best hands. Are we allowed to be there for cremation? Considering it is not regulated, how could the request be denied?

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    Minette Reply:

    If the request is denied find another facility

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  23. Adrian Colón says:

    Is there a way to reach out to the author of this article? I just had my cat cremated two weeks ago and it took them this long to tell us they can’t find his ashes. I am outraged. They say to contact their admin office in the morning to have it resolved. Seriously? There have to repercussions for this kind of mistake. A refund? An apology? This is a life we are talking about. We must regulate and hold these companies responsible. Please email me if you can. adrianjcolon@gmail.com

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    Minette Reply:

    I am the author. There is not much you can do. I tried to get the national news involved but no one was interested in my story. I am so sorry

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  24. Tammy says:

    I think what you are doing is a great job. To me someone who only deals with the vets have something to hide. You cant find there name number or anything anywhere, only the vet knows.
    Keep up the good work, vets might not be happy, but who cares !!
    People are happy and actually get their pets and in time your name will get around. Vets prob upset cause they dont get a cut.
    I just went threw this and it took over a month to get my baby back, and I like others paid for single service, but doubt it is her. No papers, no nothing, just a zip lock and a burn tag in a sealed plastic box in a plain box for pick up with a tiny tag that has my name on it.

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  25. P. Kovac says:

    Thank you for alerting people about this awful situation. I had no idea about the problems in the pet cremation industry & only became suspicious after receiving the ashes of my dear cat, Madeline.
    After she passed away the vet referred me to what seemed to be a reputable cremation company. It cost $325 AUD, which covered picking her up from the vet, individuall cremation & dropping her ashes back to the vet with a candle & certificate.
    After organising the cremation, I purchased a designer urn, from another company, to place her ashes in. As soon as I received the urn I opened the ashes & was surprised at how large the bag of ashes was for a cat of around 5-6 kg. However, it was when I went to place the ashes in my urn that I realised something was up. The ashes Filled up a 20 kg capacity urn over half way.
    I’m so disappointed, l feel like it probably wasn’t an individual cremation & I’ve been given a mixture of other animal remains.

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  26. Tomara Thompson says:

    I ordered my cat of 17 yrs to be cremated. I was billed but the crematory threw her remains away. Im in georgia. Does anyone know any legal help? Im devastated to say the least.

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  27. Jody Brickner says:

    I learned that lesson this month, too. I will never again let my vet make that decision, because he just expects me to accept the fact that the cremation service is a “contractor” that does not need to take enough pride in their work to identify themselves on the crappy cremation certificate with the fill in the blanks for name and date. I had to ask who did it. It took them 9 days to return the alleged ashes. I found out it was actually a business address 1 mile away from my vet. When I compared them to previous pets ashes (done by a previous service that actually was professional enough to put out a professional certificate with their name on it) they were black rather than white or gray, and the mass of ashes for my cats cremated by the new service were equal to the amounts to 3 of my dogs, about 66 percent more than a cat of equal size and about 60 percent more than one of my dogs, who weighed about 40 pounds in the prime of his life. The cats weighed about 10 to 13 pounds. It does not make sense. No matter what my vet or this “contractor” tells me, I know that I cannot have any faith in this service and there is no way I will ever leave a deceased pet at my vet.

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  28. Jeff says:

    Most machines that do the the cremations are designed to hold 300 to 500 Ibs. Very sad, but obvious no one is getting their individual ashes. The manufacturers of these machines should be held accountable. The heat and energy required to function has to be very high. Need to enforce legislation and be sure only 1 pet is done at a time. If this happened to Obama’s dog, you know something would be done. There apparently is no agency that monitors local cremation facilities and their practices. Somebody or group needs to get this changed.

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  29. Jeff says:

    If you research pet cremation equipment, you will see that the equipment they sell is based on batch size.

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  30. Braedyn says:

    We just euthanized my baby licorice a week and a half ago and gave him to the vet to cremate. I am too waiting for his ashes but reading this has worried me.

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  31. Mark Lux says:

    I am the owner of a pet crematory in Wisconsin and this article by Minette is very close to “spot on”. The metal disc can be cheated, we use video. The comment by Sean Purdom about having no control over what the pet hospital staff says to their clients and the staff turnover is very true. Trusting you veterinarian with your pets life is good, but trusting them with the after-death care, not so good. I compete with a crematory that uses this terminology: “Your pet is privately placed into a compartment within the cremation chamber” & “Your pet is individually placed into the cremation chamber” My attorney says “what does that mean?”, but the pet owners don’t question the vague terms used. When I call the hospitals that use my competitor they all tell me “it will be only your pet in the cremation chamber”, yet they have no clue.
    Minette is completely correct, NO ONE CARES. This is huge consumer fraud throughout the country and nobody will pay attention. Not news media, not governing officials, not state veterinarian boards or even your local vet.
    Check out Freakonomics.com “The Troubled Cremation of Stevie the Cat”

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  32. D. Miller says:

    I had my 152 lb dog cremated 10 weeks ago. It took over two weeks to get him back. My trouble is once I opened the box to bury a small amount at the farm (Rest to be buried with me), found a slip inside of which is how I found out whom the crematory was and it was marked unknown breed, unknown sex, and weight at 172. Called the crematory whom knew nothing, yet asked me then what was the dogs weight. Told them since they would not disclose what the cremation cost I was not telling his actual weight. He seemed nervous and began blaming the vet for the mix up. Had called vet before crematory and told it was his day off. yet 20 minutes after talking to crematory the vet calls me and he said correct weight was 152 and he forgot to write that on cremation although he said he told them breed and sex of my dog! He seemed nervous ((And I was very calm). I had mentioned to both parties that I had been witness to cremations and people have been given other ashes, sand, even kitty litter back and this rubbed them I could tell. Now 30 minutes later the vets asst calls me (Very snotty) tells me she found a chart they went by and the dog fell into the 150 and 200 range and that’s what they went by, well still no one can answer me “Where did the 172 come from”???… Now 15 minutes later (and his day off) the vet calls and begins to yell that he did me a favor and he came in an hour early to kill and euthanize my dog, that I called him and he did me a favor….. I had to raise my voice just to get a word in now, he said don’t worry it’s your dogs remains. He still won’t answer my question “Where did the 172 come from”…. Sad but true, it’s all about the money…. And this vet (Northern WI) has a clinic that has been passed down for generations,

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  33. I had to put my dog down two days ago. She was nearly two years old. She was the love of my LIFE. I brought her to this vet I have never been to before that seemed to have good reviews. I was hoping for a comforting environment with supportive staff as it was going to be hard enough. It wa the opposite. From the time I walked in I had two words with the Doctor before he grabbed my puppy and poked the needle into her. Before the doctor shot her I asked if they last minute knew any place at all in the world that could rescue her and they rudely said no and just have my puppy the shot. She screamed in pain and I was told to go wait in the lobby with her until she falls asleep. I was left completely alone and distraught holding my little girl while her eyes were getting more fear in them and her body was getting weak. Eventually the doctor came in and told me that her eyes weren’t going to close and she was sleeping already and GRABBED her from me and as he did she was still looking in my eyes and made the faintest little woof. I knew she was still alive and my heart crushed into a million pieces. I barely got a chance to say goodbye to her. As he was walking into the back I asked him where they burry the dogs and he simply replied someone will come pick her up and cremate her. My heart crushed even more. They never even told me this. On the phone when I made the appointment they actually used the word burry her so I thought the wrong thing the whole time until it was too late. The guilt kills me. Wasn’t said a word to as I left the building. These people have NO remorse for your feelings it’s all about the money and making it quick before you have second thoughts. The sad part is that they will never care about how confused and horrific they made my already bad experience be. I’ll never forget my wittle Nilla<3 I would love to drag down these people.

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  34. Dawn says:

    Last week I had to put my beautiful Grwat Dane, Maggie Mae down & wanted her cremated so her ashes will be mixed with mine & my other little love Annie when my time comes. I just opened the burlap bag containing Maggie’s ashes and they are BLACK … almost sand like, with very little parts of “bone fragments.” After pulling out Annie’s ashes – they look NOTHING alike!! Have you ever heard of “black” ashes? Can a DNA test be done to see if it is indeed my beloved girl? I cut patches of her hair b/4 letting them take her. Please answer. I am already heart broken & not I’m just freaking out.

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    you have no recourse and no, no dna test unless you have thousands of dollars to ask a laboratory and pay for such an expense.

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  35. Dawn says:

    SORRY: GREAT DANE / I AM NOW JUST FREAKING OUT

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  36. gail says:

    I am SOOOOOOOO glad you brought this up!!
    I had a MUCH loved pet cremated back in the 1990’s, and for some unknown reason, have always had a sense that the remains I got back weren’t his!

    My 5 year old pet has just now been diagnosed with terminal cancer. I’m doing everything I can to keep him going!
    But, when his time comes, I’m going to be sure and WITNESS his cremation and insist on getting his ashes returned to me as quickly as possible!

    [Reply]

  37. Don White says:

    Great Article. Sorry for your loss. I am going through the process of planning a ceremony for my angel who is in hospice care but is beginning to show signs of wanting to be liberated to the next phase in the cycle.

    Thanks for the information. It is unfortunate that animals are treated with such little regard yet they possess the same characteristics that we hold so dear in humans. The entire animal industry needs regulations from the crappy dog foods, vet care, meds, and crematories. Our legislators let the pet industry fleece the loving and good intentioned pet companions.

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  38. Linda says:

    I just went through the same thing. I was distraught over my little Zoey’s death and did’nt think to ask important questions and called after I left her at the vet to see who does the cremation and was given two different stories and could tell they were lying. I’m now really wondering whether I’ll get her ashes. I seriously doubt it. I wanted her ashes to be buried with me but now I don’t know what to do.I told them I wanted her body back to bury her and they said she was gone just a couple of hours after her death. I’m just praying they did’nt just throw her in a trash pit somewhere. I wish I had just brought her home and buried her! I keep telling myself that she was gone and that it should’nt matter but now I’m feeling so guilty and that I let her down! I guess if they do that to peoples precious animals God will deal with them in the end. I’m just now praying for piece of mind and the strenghth to get over this terrible experience. God bless you all and peace be with you!

    [Reply]

  39. sharon says:

    I had put my Choc. Lab down 4 weeks ago,,, I had him cremated,, I am so upset over him dying,,, He was 11 half years old,,, It has been 35 days now without him,,, I cant get over it..

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  40. Ana says:

    I am so glad I found this post. Not because of what you went through, but because I am not alone in my pain.

    On July 8th by fur soul mate (who was turning 16 on the 11th of July) started having trouble walking. Like your baby, it was very sudden. He was admitted to the ICU on the 9th and we found out his kidneys were shutting down. We left his there for fluid therapy to see if he would respond, but he got worse overnight.

    When I saw him on the 10th, his breathing was labored, his eyes covered in yellow discharge and his nose so dry it hurt. He looked at me as though pleading to end that pain. I had no doubt that I could not let him suffer and I said goodbye to my angel that day.

    Like you, we paid for an individual cremation and to have the ashes returned. Well, last Thursday they called us and told us “they made a mistake”. They cremated my baby with other dogs and scattered his ashes in their cemetery. I cannot even begin to explain the pain I felt. It was a mix of hatred, shock, disbelief and pure rage. Aside from having to say goodbye to my friend of 16 years, I also was denied the closure of having his ashes with me (I also wanted to be buried with them). I could have died that day.

    I try to re-frame my thought process because there is nothing I can do at this point, but at the same time, their “mistake” is something that I will take with me forever. I am trying to think of different ways to have closure and to honor my friend, but it’s been hard.

    [Reply]

  41. Ana says:

    I am going through the same thing right now. I know 2 years have passed for you, but I hope you found peace and that I can as well.

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  42. Ebrady says:

    I know this was a while back but I just found this site and am going thru the same thing right now. Usually, what is left after a cremation has bones but they are then pulverized. Yours must not have been.

    [Reply]

  43. Ebrady says:

    I am the same way. Had my lab cremated several years ago. Ashes have been in an urn in my my house. I just had my 16 yr old baby put to sleep. I started calling the vet for her ashes. Told for 3 days ‘in transit’ Then when I asked transit from where they suddenly said she’d been sent to the animal shelter by mistake which does supposedly do private cremations at 150$ less than where she was supposed to be sent. I got a little box with ashes, no paperwork whatsoever, I was told I only have her word for it. I have been devastated since my Missy died and even more so now. She was my baby and was treated like crap, like nothing

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  44. Jenny Parr says:

    I just had a bad experience with my vet and the a pet cremation place in PA. Since you are in a similar business please tell me if there is an overseeing agency, where we can report these things. Am I right in assuming you have to be licensed? Are they the ones we should report these things too? Bless you for sticking to your moral convictions

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  45. Lya says:

    I just lost my little girl (kitty) Lylou, 2.5 weeks ago and cremated her remain. But the ashes are far too much for a cat that weighs less than 5 lbs…
    I opened the urn and it is impossible for her to leave that much of ashes.. I know from the experiences of privately cremating my previous cats back in Japan, which was warmly, they even let us always pick the bones and put it into the urn. I was always able to make sure they were mine and were able to go home with us right away… The man always helped us understand the process of cremating, sometimes even explained the parts and forms of bones to us.

    Right now I am only hoping that at least she Is included in this heavy heavy bag of ashes… And care for anyone who is in the bag… It breaks my heart to think that her remain is not in it, and this is not only happening to us but also to the other beloved pets and the owners…… I wish to find out the truth.

    “I will never be able to get him back, and my heart will hurt about that for the rest of my life. I will also always blame myself…”, This breaks my heart and is also what I exactly feel. Lylou and I were so close, literally being together all the time. She died only 2 years old, of a heart disease. I miss her but I accepted her death. But now that her ashes may not be hers, is keeping me go back to that time I left her to those hands that day…..

    I will share your article whenever I get a chance.

    [Reply]

  46. Lindsey says:

    So sorry for you and everyone’s experiences like this :( breaks my heart to hear people handeling precious family members this way. I work at a funeral
    Home where we cremate humans and pets and we treat the pets like the people all separate unless stated otherwise. Unfortunately not everyone handles it this way :( and to answer the question of metal yes it all comes out and people only get metal back if they ask.

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  47. Amanda says:

    I worked for vets and I worked for the city animal control department which had its own crematorium. I know what can happen…. mass bodies, incinerator breaking down mid burn, etc. It’s not pretty. People are horrified to learn that I cremated my own dog in the backyard. Yes, it took a long time. But it was private, dignified, and I knew that the ashes belonged to my Max. Don’t judge. If you’ve seen the things I’ve seen, you’d agree my backyard cremation was the best choice for me.

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  48. lisa says:

    Does anyone know a reputable place to cremate a horse or a place I can sit and watch it being done to make sure I am getting my horse back

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  49. lisa says:

    How can I make sure my horse is getting cremated properly? I like your idea but would it work for a horse?

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  50. Jodi Clock says:

    I just stumbled onto your post and I love it! I am both a pet parent and a pet loss/crematory owner. For your very reason is the purpose I went into business. There is a movement started within the pet cremation profession to stop this and to educate pet parents and vet clinics regarding total transparency and full disclosure. Its called the PLPA (Pet Loss Professional Alliance). Thank you for writing this!

    [Reply]

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