|Published in the Lewiston Sun Journal
Monday, May 3, 2004
Cremation: Final Care of your Pet’s Body
By Linda Desrosier
The loss of a pet is undeniably a stressful time for the family left behind. For many years, we have been subject to
the comfort, joy, loyalty and devotion they have brought into our lives. They have become our companions, helping
us to feel less lonely and isolated. It is through this and their unconditional love that we form such an emotional
connection. A connection so powerful, that when a pet dies, we are as overwhelmed with grief as in our human
counterparts. They have become, unquestionably, our family members.
Though not a subject that we are inclined to think about, it is best to explore the options available to you before your
pet dies. When humans die, we go to great lengths to create funeral services that are therapeutic and help us in our
grieving process. Unfortunately, when our pets die, we are left to our own devices, but that is changing. City and
county regulations may not permit burial in the back yard as in days of old. Pet cemeteries are now the alternative.
Cremation, however, is quickly becoming a popular and practical option for handling the bodies of our deceased
pets. It is an ecologically safe method for veterinarians to dispose of the bodies of those pets whose owners aren’t
comfortable bringing the body home or retaining the ashes. Many pet owners, however, want to keep their
companions ashes close by and also available to take with them if they move. Some owners will even choose to have
their pet’s ashes interred with them when they die.
Where humans have had a choice of funeral directors to go to when a loved one dies, pet owners have not had that
same choice. Until recently, the only choice we have had is to leave the aftercare of our pet’s bodies to the
veterinarians. There, the bodies are stored in a freezer until they are picked up on a specific pre-scheduled day(s)
of the week, are cremated and the ashes returned to the vet’s office on a subsequent pickup. This option is viable,
but in these changing times, pet owners want more involvement. There are services now available for those who
require a more personalized approach with same day service for approximately the same cost. Cremation costs can
vary and are dependant upon the size of the pet. Urns, if purchased, are another cost to be factored in and can cost
anywhere from $15 all the way up to $500.
In the cremation process itself, an intense heat returns your pet’s body to its basic elements. This process can take
several hours depending on the size of the pet. Cremated remains, called “cremains” are the end result. Cremains
resemble sand-like particles or small pebbles, which can range from a light gray to white in color depending on the
process used, and can be with or without larger chips of bone. Generally, the cremains are contained in a plastic
bag, which is then placed in a small urn. There are many designed for this purpose or you may also choose another
suitable container. Depending on local regulations, cremains can also be buried or scattered in a meaningful place,
perhaps at your pet’s favorite spot in the yard.
There are also two choices of cremation: Mass or Private. Mass Cremation is when more than one pet’s body is
cremated at one session. This method is less expensive and more widely used by veterinary offices and clinics. In
private cremation, only one pet’s body is cremated with the intent of the cremains being returned to the owner. If
private cremation is not specified yet you would like a return of cremains, you may receive the cremains of other pets
in addition to your own. This explains why private cremations are more expensive. Sadly, many owners, though
having chosen private cremation, are not totally convinced that the cremains received are solely those of their pet.
Some crematoriums will allow attended cremations where the pet owner can be as involved, within reason, as they so
choose. This can help to alleviate any fears as well as offer emotional support.
It is important to know that you have chosen a reputable pet crematorium where your pet will be treated with the
respect, compassion and dignity it deserves. When deciding on cremation, the best advice is to look in the
classifieds of your local newspaper or telephone directory and ask around.
Remember that regardless of which method you ultimately select to handle your pet’s body, they will live forever in
FMI, contact Linda Desrosier at Fluke's Aftercare, 340 Oak Hill Road, Litchfield, 1-877-268-2912 or visit www.