Activist: Cremation “Aftercare” Industry Giving Pet Owners Wrong Ashes
In Massachusetts, state legislators want to better regulate companies who provide pet cremation services. This summer, an animal rights activist testified at the State House that some companies do give grieving animal lovers pet urns for ashes — the urns just don’t contain the right ashes.
“Unfortunately, no one is watching,” said activist Bill Trabucco. “They cremate all the pets together, scoop out some ashes. You put it on a mantle assuming this is your pet. You think it’s your pet of 15 years. It’s not your pet.”
A bill under review at the Massachusetts State House would implement an effective, albeit macabre, solution: crematoriums would have to take digital video of each cremation, capturing an uninterrupted feed of the removal and storage of the remains. If the bill passes the Public Health Committee this year, then violators could face a fine of $10,000 and up to a year in jail.
The proposed bill would ensure pet owners can pay tribute to their pets with dignity. In addition to the crematorium regulations, the bill would allow pets and their loyal owners to be buried side-by-side. Under certain conditions, they could even be interred together in “companion caskets.”
“With so little regulation regarding pet cremation, pet owners are right to be concerned,” says Ira Woods, President, OneWorld Memorials. “Before your pet is taken, thoroughly research the process and the facility you or your veterinarian is planning to use. Make sure your pet receives a completely private and individual cremation rather than a communal or partitioned cremation where other animals are included. Get it in writing and understand how the crematory defines these different kinds of services. Make sure proper tagging happens as is the norm with human cremation. These few things will certainly cost you more, but in the end you’ll have greater peace of mind.”
The pet care industry is worth an estimated $60 billion, and the last decade has seen a boom in the pet “aftercare” industry, as well. More pet owners are asking to receive urns for ashes so they can bury their pet, scatter ashes, or display an urn in their home. According to the International Association of Pet Cemeteries and Crematories, there are more than 700 businesses providing pet memorial services in the United States.
Ed Hildebrandt runs one such company in Plymouth, MA. He says that performing individual pet cremations prevents fraud, but because it costs more money, fraudulent companies have a competitive edge. Hildebrandt testified in support of the bill, hoping it will improve the aftercare industry for the better.
“They’re a family member. They just happen to have four legs and fur,” Trabucco said. “They’ll give you undying love and loyalty, and I think we all know being part of the human race, we don’t always get that from each other.”