Leading Expert Reveals Dangers For Owners Choosing a Pet Cremation Service
East Grinstead, West Sussex (PRWEB UK) 29 June 2012
Sussex pet crematorium owner Stephen Mayles has called for the public to be wary of rogue practices which he says are rife in the pet cremation industry.
In the wake of the controversy caused by Channel 4’s Dispatches programme Undercover Undertaker – showing human bodies stacked in large storage areas – Mr Mayles said: “Pets destined for cremation have been suffering far worse handling for many years even though owners think they have paid for a caring, respectful cremation service.”
Mr Mayles, who has run Chestnut Lodge Pet Crematorium, near East Grinstead, for 26 years, wants the public to realise that pet cremation is totally unregulated meaning there is scant protection for owners.
“Licensing of pet crematoriums only controls the environmental impact of incineration, and issues such as preventing transmission of disease. The way the animal is collected and handled, the cremation procedure and the ways ashes are collected afterwards are decided by each individual crematorium. The majority choose methods aimed at maximising profits both for themselves and for the vets who sell on these services creating a rising income stream.”
In recent years pet cremation has become widely adopted. Mr Mayles said it’s not unusual for more than 50 per cent of clients at a veterinary surgery to opt for individual cremation – but it is unusual for the vets to have detailed knowledge of the procedures used by the crematorium contracted to deliver services for their clients. Mr Mayles said vets often choose a contractor who will take all their veterinary waste as well offering them cost savings and the opportunity to add a healthy mark-up to the price of individual pet cremations.
As competition for veterinary contracts becomes fierce, the companies offering the most attractive prices will collect from as many surgeries as possible resulting in bagged bodies being piled high in the back of vans, often with the clinical, hazardous waste, transferred to wheelie bins and then heaped into an incinerator. But the owner sees nothing of this and is being sold a caring cremation service, said Mr Mayles.
“Definitions of the word ‘individual’ may surprise some owners,” he added. “Crematoriums often place multiple pets on trays in large incinerators and still classify this as ‘individual’. But cremation is a volatile process meaning ashes are likely to be mixed and when they are gathered afterwards there is no guarantee owners receive just their pet’s ashes back.”
Inaccurate or non-existent descriptions of pet cremation services are in breach of trading standards laws – but in order to raise a complaint owners need to know they have been misled.
Blatant fraud has been proved in some cases. Last year a court heard how pet bodies were found in a field after owners had supposedly received their ashes. In another case, horses were taken away for disposal and ashes from other sources were returned.
Mr Mayles advised owners not to arrange cremations through their vet but to contact the pet crematorium directly and ask questions to ensure their pet will be handled and cremated in the way they would wish. “One person’s cremation is another’s disposal,” he said.
Mr Mayles said: “I believe that we should work in partnership with veterinary surgeries to give pet owners a genuine cremation service if that is what they want. Cremation is not just about getting the ashes back – it is about the whole process including the collection and handling of the pet.”