Ask questions when considering pet cremation
ANNAPOLIS — The year was 2002 when the cremation industry was forever changed.
In what would become a $40 million lawsuit, heavy state regulation and an overhaul of proper management in the world of cremation, there arose a situation in Georgia surrounding Tristate Crematory.
In simple terms, the crematory wasn’t doing their job. As a direct result, regulations were implemented by each state and oversight was instituted to be sure that cremations are carried out in a fashion that most undertakers stand for: dignity, honesty and respect.
That was good for human beings, but what about the four-legged furry friends that become just as much a part of a family? Is the handling of their remains regulated the same way as those of humans?
Many people have been raised with dog or cat as the family pet, and most can clearly remember the day the pet passed away. Grief over a pets loss is in some cases no different from the loss of an immediate family member.
Therefore, one would think that respect of a pet would be applied to it as it is for a family member. It is not always that way. When it comes to cremation of pets, veterinary clinics offer a method of disposition through third parties, most of which offer a means of group cremation or private cremation.
To most, this would be defined as mass cremation with other pets at one time or individual cremation – one pet at a time. Many, therefore, would ask the clinic to do private cremation.
As Stephen J. Dubner and WYNC reported in their podcast of 2012 entitled, “The Troubled Cremation of Stevie the Cat,” something very different from what one might expect could occur when someone asks for a “private cremation.”
With pet cremation, there is minimal regulation and therefore almost anyone can provide the service. So how does one truly know what kind of service they’re really going to get?
In the podcast, reporters approached a series of pet crematories and requested private cremation in an effort ot test what would truly happen. The individuals supplied each crematory with a stuffed animal disguised in a bag.
In this experiment, each crematory outfit failed the test. All the crematories returned cremated remains of “their pet.”
Where did they come from? How could they do this?
What was discovered is that allegedly some pet crematories have a system in place after doing mass cremation, regardless of what the consumer requested, in which they would take a set amount of remains for a larger pet, such as a lab, and a smaller amount of remains for a smaller pet, such as a chihuahua, slap a label on a box and send it to the family or the vet.
Everyone got a little something, no matter what.
The biggest question that comes out of this report is how can one be sure those cremated remains received are in fact those of someone’s pet?
The answer is simple. Owner’s need to be sure to ask the pet crematory — or any crematory outfit — what steps are taken to ensure this.
Each crematory should have instituted an identification and certification process at their facility. If not, perhaps one may want to look elsewhere.
If pet cremation through a veterinary clinic is what someone’s opts for, then ask the vet what steps are taken to guarantee the remains are those of someone’s pet. Even better, find a reputable funeral and cremation firm that is regulated by industry state law, as those firms must do it properly or risk being closed if state inspectors find violations.
So what is the future of pet cremation? Will there be new regulations enacted or are people going to have to wait for a major scandal such as the one in Georgia?
Regardless, consumers must learn to make the proper decisions when the time comes to bid a pet goodbye.
Ryan Helfenbein, owner, supervising mortician and preplanning counselor at Lasting Tributes on Bestgate Road in Annapolis, offers solutions to high-cost funerals. He can be reached at 410897-2852 or Ryan@LastingTributesFuneralCare.com.