Regulation and control over the pet cremation industry is virtually non-existent and your pet is unlikely to get the cremation service you expect.
It is very much a case of "buyer beware" and you should take a cautious approach to trusting the person who is selling you the cremation. If that seems harsh then we are sorry but that is the state of affairs. Perhaps we should explain in a little more detail as the situation is not as hopeless as it seems.
Legal requirements ensure pet crematoria operate under licensing but only as waste or animal disposal sites. There are no requirements to carry out cremations in a dignified manner or even to ensure individual cremations are carried out on their own. The guidelines for the regulations allow pet owners to have the ashes of their pet back and infer they should only be that pet's ashes. However this is not investigated or confirmed by the inspectors that visit the sites. Yes, they are controlled from an environmental aspect but not as far as a guarantee of service goes. The Association of Private Pet Cemeteries & Crematoria is the only group that sets standards of service to protect the pet owner from shoddy and disreputable operators. Always go to the website or phone the helpline to confirm the crematorium you are thinking of using is a member. There has been at least one case of a firm claiming to be a member when they were not. If you feel there is a problem with one of the members then contact The APPCC and they will investigate. It is in their interests to ensure all members operate properly – one bad firm can bring down the reputations of everyone.
Most of you will arrange the cremation through your veterinary surgery and it is here the most confusion arises. Veterinary practices are quite rightly concerned with keeping your pets healthy and alive with the best possible quality of life. They are our trusted professionals in that respect. They are not trained in carrying out cremations or in knowing how those cremations should be carried out. The surgery has a duty to dispose of any animals that are left on their premises. In some countries it is normal for vets to simply provide a list of companies owners may take their pets to. Unfortunately it is common in the UK for vets to arrange cremations for their clients. Most assume that all pet crematoria are the same and chose the best deal that will not only give them a good profit from selling the cremation service but also enable them to have their veterinary waste taken away at the same time. Pets and waste – not the sort of combination you would want for your loved one.
It is easy to justify using any company as they all produce glossy brochures saying how wonderful and caring they are. The truth may be very different no matter how friendly and kind the people seem. We are not condemning vets in any way as most act out of the best intentions but perhaps everyone should concentrate on their own specialities.
A better answer to the above question is do not rely on your veterinary surgery to arrange the cremation for you unless they use a member of the APPCC. Go to the association website to check the validity of the member. Make the arrangements directly with the crematorium and never be afraid to question their procedures.
Further information about the work of the Association of Private Pet Cemeteries & Crematoria may be found at www.appcc.org.uk or call 01252 844478.