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 198 Comments

  1. Cherie Wilson says:

    Oh my gosh reading this breaks my heart! I have had a couple of my pets cremated but my baby Oli was done wrong at the vet to start with and he wasn’t treated as he should have been while he was alive and he was allowed to die and I was trusting that the Vet was doing everything he could to save him only to find out later that he had not done anything he should have, we had been in his office every day for five days in a row, I even called the vet the last day he was alive and told him that my baby needed to see him because he was bad sick and he told me that he would be fine until the next day without even seeing him and he didn’t make it until the next day he died in my arms in the parking lot of the vets office waiting for him to get there, I had him cremated and when I went to the vet to pick him up after they got him back they didn’t even know who oli was or why I was there which was insulting to say the least, needless to say I no longer use that vet and have the best now but the thought of my little oli not actually being the remains I got back just makes me sick and after reading your article it somewhat clears up the questions I had about the ashes I got back and breaks my heart I could so relate to your pain and guilt and hurt and grief, I know exactly what you feel because I’ve felt that same way since I lost Oli, I’ve never had a stronger bond with any other pet or animal than I had w him, he was my little soul mate, strong bond, I don’t know who had worse separation anxiety, him or me! That’s a bad hurt and knowing someone else could have my Oli just makes me sick and want to cry! I’m going to invest some time on this issue. Thank you for bringing this to light

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  2. Richard says:

    I’m with the author 100%.

    Our world crumbled when we lost our 17-year cat Meatball to cancer 1/19/18. Home vet on site kindly asked if we would like to have private cremation, paw prints and all. Of course we said yes in sad tears.

    While dreading days for the crematory phone call to pick up Meatball, wife out of the blue asked “How do we even know the paw prints are his?” The question struck me like lighting “Paw prints? Heck, what about the ashes!?” I was never the same.

    I’ve started to question the integrity of pet crematories ever since and read stories about one pet owner in UK who happened to be a chemist exposed the ugly truth how he never got his dog ashes back. Turned out the crematory not only never once cremated their clients beloved companions but dumped every dead pet in the backyard to rot and sold nothing but bags of sand back to the poor owners.

    You would think no way they can do the unthinkable, but think again. This really is an unregulated business that can get away with a lot if allowed by simply taking advantage of people when they are the most vulnerable.

    Fast forward we are going to pick up his “ashes” and “prints” today so we’ll see!

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  3. Angela and Tracy says:

    We cried when we read your words and the pictures of the two of you and your Incredible Love for one another, we will never forget. We have gone through something similiar….isnt it awful?!! The pain, loss, the questions… that feeling that we can’t shake, those thoughts that steal our peace….the injustice of this…..we will not forget the two of you.

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  4. Diana says:

    Thank you so much for this article. We just lost our cat of 13 yrs. I did not ask for his cremains to be returned. I was beating myself up for not doing so. I never thought that this type of business get away with this. How can they sleep at night! I now feel at peace and will remember him alive. Thanks again for that time researching and sharing.

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  5. Adrianna says:

    It’s very sad how many pet crematories give all crematories a bad rep. Not all crematories are the same. My husband and I have been running a pet crematory for several years and we take complete pride in what we do. We treat every pet as if he or she were our own. We demand all our staff do the same. Even though pet crematories are not regulated, we try to mimic a human funeral home as much as possible. We have several strict operating procedures and guidelines we follow on our own, despite not having to. We do it to provide peace of mind to each family we service. We have an open door policy and anyone can stop in for a tour any time during our business hours. We are very transparent and we take every opportunity we can to educate on cremation. Sadly, even most of our vet clients have no idea what actually goes on at our facility so how can they explain the process to their families? We encourage all vet staff to come do lunch and learns at our facility and I can count on one hand who has taken advantage of those sessions. Since it was mentioned, it’s worth explaining….the reason pets can be cremated with other pets is because unfortunately our government doesn’t recognize pets as people. They are considered “property”, therefore you don’t have to go through the same permitting and steps that the human side does. I’m praying one day our fuzzy babies will be recognized as family and then there would be more strict guidelines in place that every pet crematory would have to follow. Best advice I can give is to do your own research, call the crematory, ask questions, ask to take a tour, and get to know who will be handling your beloved pet. Don’t just take your vets word for it. And cheapest is usually not the best. Just like in all industries, most times you get what you pay for. It is not cheap to cremate a pet…if you see a price too good to be true, steer clear. Most people do not choose a good vet by how cheap they are, one should not choose their cremation provider that way either.

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    Minette Reply:

    I used an emergency clinic and by no means was the care, euthanasia, or creaming “cheap” nor do I look for that EVER in the care of my animals.

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  6. Maryland says:

    I just picked up my dog’s ashes today and was quite disturbed when the person who brought her out to me said to me, “So sorry it took so long, one of the other bags busted open and I had to scoop the ashes back in really quick. It made me wonder immediately what in the hell she was talking about. I opened the box after I drove away and park elsewhere. I peeked inside and saw a sticker with my name and my pets name. I closed it and felt a tad bit satisfied thinking it must have been a special plastic bag. I was surprised how small amount I did get back… she wasn’t small. I got home later that evening and my daughter opened the box and saw the bag but this time I caught a glimpse of the green portion of it that keeps it closed…. and it is a ziplock bag!! For the amount of money I spent for this, I was very disappointed.

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  7. Mariann Mottola says:

    We found a lovely caring pet cremation facility in Jackson New Jersey. Forever remembered. The owner is simply amazing. Jen. Only one pet cremation at a time. Rates posted right on her walll. Reasonable and fair pricing. Jen has a small viewing room where if you choose to you can watch the cremation. The cremation is videotaped. Animals are handles with love and gentleness and a private room is set up for final good byes. We handed her our fur baby and she was so kind and helped us with our good byes. Personal effects were returned upon completion of the cremation. Forever remembered. Jackson New Jersey. She even gave us our dogs foot prints and nose prints on a personalized card. Thank you Jen. We need more animal lovers like her in our world

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  8. Colleen says:

    When my kitty died in September of 2017 I went to the crematory and I personally set him inside the furnace and waited outside for the process. It took about an hour. I then went in and watched them pull the tray out of the furnace. And many times even though the process is completely done there are bone fragments left and those are crushed so all the ashes you receive are small and consistent. I didn’t want his remaining bone fragments crushed so I have ashes and bones. Maybe that’s a way to ensure private cremation – request that bone fragments are not crushed and if they refuse, go somewhere else. I imagine they’d be more likely to have a private cremation if they knew you might be able to check that the fragments are from your species and size of pet.

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  9. Dawn Mello says:

    This breaks my heart, though I suspected this as well. They exploit pain for profit. I don’t know what to do now, I have 5 dogs and I wanted to be free with them when I die. Just disgraceful!

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  10. Diana Balak says:

    Would you please let me know where you are located? I have a 17 year old dog who is my baby. I’ve had her since she was 8 weeks old. When it’s her time to go to doggie heaven I’m going to have her cremated. My husband of 51 years passed away 9 months ago and I had him cremated. I’ve told my children that when I die to cremate me and then have my husband’s ashes, my ashes and our doggie baby’s ashes into the ocean. I live in Ephrata PA. Are you near me or can you recommend an honest crematory for my dog? Thank you for any information you may have and thank you for your time.

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  11. Lottie says:

    My tiny chihuahua is very ill and I fear dying. She has been with me for 20 years. I’m giving her hospice care at home as I am a nurse.. she’s not in pain. I live in the country and I will not pay for a cremation after reading this and other stories and probably won’t be my baby. I will bury her the Bible way in my back yard she loved. The cremation business I fear is a racket.. and unless your pet is in pain or you can’t handle it let them pass on in peace in the home and your care there for them.. my thoughts..ps it’s not against the law to bury your pet here where I live and even if it were I’d still bury my pet and know it’s her there.. Hod bless all you who mourn ..

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  12. Patricia Fekay says:

    I too lost my Shepard of ten years the vet took my money but never tagged my dog to make a long story short I lost my dogs ashes they didn’t care they messed up then tried to bribe creator to threw scrape up ashes and say they were our dogs. The creator said didn’t have the heart to do it after seeing how upset I was. They said oh well well take the law suit who dose that? Justice for my heidi

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  13. Tracy says:

    I have NEVER believed in cremation for fur kids. The whole thing is very shady as you pointed out and no regulation. Even before I read this I always just assumed it was like this because frankly, people suck and if you have the stomach to cremate animals all day you probably don’t really love animals or care much about them or their owners. Our fur kids are always buried in the yard that was their home and a beautiful tree is then planted on them. I know we may move one day, but where they lie was their home and always will be no matter what. I could not bare the thought of one of my babies in a plastic bag being tossed around by strangers and knowing I would probably not even be getting their ashes. Thank you for this article, hopefully people will think twice about cremation.

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  14. Jack says:

    We lost our beloved Tiffany yesterday and chose to have her cremated as we did with our other 7 dogs. After reading all the neg. reviews and sad comments, I think we really made a big mistake. Always thought pets were individually creamated. Because yesterday was Fri. and the vet isn’t opened on this weekend, I think I’ll go back to the Vet and retrieve her. We’re so hurt to read about other accounts that people are so blinded by misconceptions of getting their pets ashes mixed in with other ashes. This really pisses me off to no end. I feel for all the victims that have been taken by these uncaring selfish scum that perform this
    money making scheme.

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