Activist: Cremation “Aftercare” Industry Giving Pet Owners Wrong Ashes
There are few things in life that are guaranteed and one is that eventually, we are all going to die. And when that happens, it will fall to your family and loved ones to deal with the costs of burial and associated final expenses. Whether you are laid to rest in a standard cemetery or at a cremation facility there are some costs that will have to be dealt with. Of course, these can vary from location to location and also heavily depend on what services you want.
Many funeral homes can help your family with expenses by offering more affordable options that are still functional and respectful without being too overly extravagant and costly. Things like cheap burial vaults, cheap funeral casket options, and even cheap funeral service features can help keep your final expenses from becoming too burdensome for your family.
These options are nice but the best way to keep funeral costs manageable is to talk about your final wishes while you are still alive. People don’t like talking about death and dealing with cemetery fees and expenses but dealing with those things now can make life easier once you have passed.
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.”
It is easy to understand why so many people ask themselves “After a cremation what happens to the ashes?” Those looking to have an urn of their best beloved pet or a cremation funeral where the ashes are buried perhaps under a favorite tree, it is one of the most asked questions. Cremation services should be forthcoming in exactly what you can expect and have your questions answered. Basic cremation services are cheaper than some of the more advanced selections, but no matter your budget you should come out of the meeting with a thorough knowledge of what is going to happen from start to finish and what you will be going home with. Are cremations cheaper than burials? Mostly yes, again depending on what you’re selecting. Always ask questions and know what you’re being invoiced prior to handing over your pet. There are a lot of variances in pet cremations, Detroit is no different in that aspect. However, by having a solid list of questions for your cremation service, you’ll leave well assured of everything going as it should.
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