Pet Cremation in a nutshell

Thank you for following this twitter link – it is an indication of just how much you care about your pets, and also that you are prepared to research the whole range of pet services that are available to pet owners.
I believe that the following information will have a significant impact on difficult decisions you will inevitably face following the loss of a much loved pet, and although upsetting to consider now it will enable you to make an informed decision about what will happen when your pet dies and who will be entrusted to carry out its cremation – all well ahead of time.
Most Veterinarians will offer to arrange your pet’s cremation for you, and since this is a distress purchase most pet owners will be happy to allow their Vet to make this arrangement, believing them to be acting in their client’s best interests.
This is not necessarily the case
• Most Veterinarians act as a “Broker” for the Pet Disposal Industry (which is unregulated)
• As a “Broker” the Practice will charge their client a “built in” Arrangement Fee. In the case of an “Individual” cremation this will be more than three times the cost they are charged by their disposal service provider. A 166% mark up is not unusual.
• The Industry also carries out the disposal of all the Clinical & Surgical waste generated by the practice during the week.
• Cremations are carried out remotely, often outside the county of origin.
• Collections are usually made weekly. This makes it necessary for the practice to routinely freeze a pet’s remains along with surgical/clinical waste often in the same freezer.

Consider these statistics

• There are well over 20 million household companion animals in the UK.
• Of those requiring cremation after death, most will be arranged by a Veterinarian on behalf of a client.
• Most pet owners are unaware that there are alternative cremation providers.
• There are only 30 APPCC approved Private Pet Cremation services in the UK. These are generally family run small businesses who believe that a Pet is a family member and deserves the same dignity & respect afforded any deceased family member.
• The APPCC (Association of Private Pet Cemeteries and Crematoria) is the self regulating body that sets the performance standards for its 30 members.
Principally an APPCC member will guarantee that a pet will be cremated alone in a machine designed for this purpose meeting all EU and DEFRA regulations and that 100% of the animals uncontaminated remains will be available to its family within 48hrs.

The APPCC continue discussions with The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons & the British Veterinary Association regarding Pet Cremation, Pet Disposal, the Industry and the Private Pet Cremation Sector and make the following recommendations.

1. When offering to arrange a Pet’s cremation on behalf of a client, a Veterinarian should make it clear that there are alternative Pet Cremation Providers.
2. Vets should be explaining to owners that they can take their pet away / use another cremation service if they wish. Vets not doing so can be reprted to the associations professional conduct department.
3. When billing a client for an arranged cremation it should be clear how much the practice is being charged by the cremation provider and how much the client is being charged by the practice for arranging the cremation.
4. It should also be made very clear how a pet is being stored while it awaits collection, where it will be going and when it will be returned. Vets should carry out “due diligence” before offering a pet cremation service.
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A Pet’s Cremation is a “Buyer Beware ” “Distress” purchase. Until pet owners excercise informed choices about who carries out their pets cremation the Industry will remain Vet driven.

Size is Everything

This is a tough one – and it is not my intention to disillusion folks who have previously used a Veterinarian to arrange a Pets cremation, but to illustrate how important it is for pet owners to become fully aware of the differences in service between arranging a private pet cremation through an APPCC approved private pet cremation service themselves and in using the cremation provider recommended by their Vet.

The volume of ash generated during an individual cremation clearly depends on the size of the animal cremated, but as a general rule approximately 3% volume by weight will remain and you should expect all this to be returned to you if you have requested and paid for an individual cremation. We recently carried out the cremation of a large German Shepherd and its owner proudly displayed the casket its brother had been returned in when its cremation was arranged through their Veterinarian. This casket could not possibly have contained all their pets remains which would have been the equivalent of two bags of sugar!!

The Chester comes in 3 sizes Small, Medium & Large

Your Vet’s cremation provider can offer you the option of an “individual” cremation with Ashes back. This is clearly an option that most caring pet owners would elect, expecting that their pet will be cremated on its own in the cremator and that all of its remains will be returned – it is here that confusion arises.

“Legal requirements ensure pet crematoria operate under licensing but only as waste or animal disposal sites. There are no legal requirements to carry out cremations in a dignified manner or even to ensure individual cremations are carried out on their own. The guidelines for the regulations allow pet owners to have the ashes of their pet back and infer they should only be that pets ashes. However this is not investigated or confirmed by the inspectors that visit the sites. Yes, they are controlled from an environmental aspect but not as far as a guarantee of service goes” (APPCC)

The onus is on you, the pet owner to make informed decisions about what will happen to your pet after its death and you should press your veterinarian to provide satisfactory answers to the following questions:

For some pet owners this is unacceptable. If you leave your pet with your veterinarian it will invariably be frozen until it is collected at some point and transported to a site some distance away.
A private pet cremation service can collect from your Veterinary Surgery within minutes of your pets passing.You can even take your pet to a private crematoria yourself.
Charlies Parlour will not freeze a pet. We have a cool storage facility, but in most cases we would carry out a cremation within 24 hours of its arrival with us.

Most practices have a long standing arrangement with a cremation provider which offers huge financial inducements to Vets to use their services. If your Vet is recommending a provider one would expect them to have visited it and to have satisfied themselves that the operating standards of this provider will meet their clients expectations.

Ask your Vet if they can give you a guarantee that your pet will be cremated on its own and that you will recieve back your pets uncontaminated remains in their entirety. Press them on this point. An APPCC approved private pet cremation service can give this guarantee. It is the main principal of membership.

You may be surprised to discover that your pet may well be sent hundreds of miles away for it’s cremation. There are very few privately run APPCC approved pet crematioria in the UK. Most Veterinarians will use one of the large Pet disposal sites which process the remains of thousands of pets weekly.Charlies Parlour is the only APPCC approved Private Pet Cremation Service in Wiltshire. I am aware of one local Veterinary Practice that sends deceased pets to a company in Leeds for processing.

You may be lucky enough to have a veterinary practice that already uses an APPCC approved cremation provider, and one who puts the interests of their clients above fiancial gain. The APPCC are committed to raising pet owner awareness around this sensitive issue and to encourage Veterinarians to concentrate their efforts in continuing to offer the best services available in Pet Care and treatment, and to leave afterdeath services to those who specialise in them and are regulated to ensure that pet owners recieve the quality of service they expect and are paying for.

When it comes to Pet Cremation it is simply a case of “Buyer Beware”.

What to expect from Charlies Parlour

We will collect your pet if you wish and bring it to our premises on the Westdale Nursery site just outside Bradford on Avon on the Holt Road. Of course, you can bring your pet to us yourself.It may be easier to bring you pet in its basket or wrapped in a blanket, and there will be someone to assist in taking it from the car if needed. Just give us a call in advance on 01225 869449 so that we can prepare for your visit.Some pet owners like to visit us well in advance of a pets passing.This is not a morbid thing to do and it will reassure you that you will recieve the quality of service you are expecting.

There will be a little paperwork to complete, and you can ask any questions that you may have. We will do all we can to reassure you that your pet will be treated with dignity and respect throughout its time with us at Charlies Parlour. You can also stay as long as you need before you say your last “goodbye”. It is important to us that you feel confident in leaving your pet with us. You can choose from a range of caskets that we have available.

If you have requested a paw cast that will be done shortly after you leave. This is not an intrusive process and takes about 15 minutes.
Unlike a Veterinary Practice we, will never freeze a pet. We do have a chilling facility and will use this if we need to conduct the cremation the following day. We will always carry out a cremation within 24 hours of its arrival and aim to have its remains available for collection within 48 hours.
As a member of the Association of Private Pet Crematoria & Cemeteries we are bound by a Charter which guarantees the Individual Cremation of a Pet. This means that your pet will be cremated on its own, and that 100% of its uncontaminated remains will be returned to you. This is our promise to all pet owners.

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To Freeze or not to Freeze – that is the Question

This is the single nugget of information that would influence most pet owners choice of cremation service provider.

People I speak to are horrified to learn that Vets routinely freeze deceased pets while they await collection. This is done out of necessity, since most practices only have one collection per week. The freezer will contain all the pets whether they are to be mass cremated or given an “Individual” cremation. Ask your Veterinarian if this is  a policy they follow.

Meet Sam

Soon to be star

This little chap is about to star in Charlies Parlour’s promotional video.

I think we are onto a winner here. At 18 months Sam is very wiling to please and he is a natural performer. I have been working on an idea and story board for some time and it is now all coming together. It was really difficult to hit on an idea that could present Pet Cremation in an informative way without being graphic or maudling.

You will have to wait for its unveiling, but wish me luck with the “Shooting”.


Got to be the most rewarding job ever

This is proving to be our most eventful day yet at Charlies Parlour and makes me realise why Private Pet Cremation Services exist and why all pet owners need to be aware of service levels they offer so that they will be able to plan ahead and make an informed decision about what will happen to their pet after it’s death.

Today we are carrying out two cremations. A handsome German Shepherd cross and a Westie, a grand old Dame of 18 years. We also have had two collections. The first collection was of a pretty tortoishell cat who was carrying tumors and had to be put to sleep. Her owner came in to collect her remains with her two beautiful dogs Luna & Vic a springer and a Border Terrier. It was a real pleasure to meet them both and their owner and to see them all leave very happy and at peace, and to know that we helped to make their loss a little easier.

The gentleman who dropped his little Westie off had had a bad previous experience when his pets remains were left with the Vet to deal with and were susequently lost! and so was delighted to find us through a web search.

Please continue to inform any pet owner friends of the existence of APPCC approved Private Pet Cremation Services. These are usually small family run concerns who can guarantee the individual cremation of companion animals and will also return the uncontaminated remains of that pet within 48 hours. Pet owners are always welcome to call in and meet staff and discuss any concerns they may have about the cremation process. It is far better to think ahead and prepare for a pets eventual loss than to be confronted with it and forced to make decisions about how your pets last journey will be managed.

How it all began


 Poor Old Charlie

I have been rattling on about Charlies Parlour Pet Cremation Services for weeks now and realise I havn’t explained how it all got started. I am also aware of how visually unexciting this blog is, so I will also do something about that.

Charlie became the family pet when he needed rehoming at 6 months. Originally a  promising show Westie, Charlie’s left ear refused to stand up, and while this gave him an endearing expression (he spent his fifteen years appearing to be constantly surprised by all and everything!) his show days were over. It didn’t take Charlie long though to establish himself as an indispensable addition to the family. An ideal “Family” dog, Charlie deveoped a unique relationship with everyone.

The years rolled on and at fifteen poor old Charlie had become blind and deaf, a little senile and as a final indignity, increasingly incontinent. His confusion was impacting on his quality of life, and this, combined with a terror of visits to the Vet and the groomer and his general disorientation promted the family conference that took place to discuss what was best for Charlie. A very difficult decision was reached and an appointment made with the Vet for the following day, ironically though this day would prove to be Charlies last.

Part of Charlies nightime routine was a final visit out into the enclosed garden before bed. The usual “Yap” to regain entry was not given and after 20 minutes a search of the garden began- but no Charlie.!! The search extended into the street and down the lane, though how Charlie could have slipped out was a mystery. Charlies body was eventually found rising to the surface of the garden pond.

Charlie had a loathing of water, and although blind knew every inch of his garden, we can only think that he became disoriented, bumbled towards the pond, lost his footing and lacked the strength to clamber out. These last minutes are just too dreadful to contemplate. When I came on the scene after a very distraught call from my sister, Charlie was in a box in the porch. Poor old Charlie looked bedraggled and green. The family so shocked I took him home with me to clean him up.

 Charlie after a bath and a blowdry

Charlie looked so peaceful after being bathed and brushed out so I sat him in an armchair in the kitchen and went to bed.

Next morning Charlie was laid out in the lounge where firstly my two dogs “Dixie” & “Patsy Fagin” said their farewells and then Charlies family came over to see him. Of course everyone was upset to see him although delighted with how nicely he was laid out. After 10 mins the blubbering stopped and Charlie only appeared to be fast asleep in front of the fire.

What to do now?………………………………………………………………………………….

My first dog “Hovis” died many years ago. She was euthanised by her Veterinarian since nothing could be done with the progressive liver tumour she had developed. I left her at the surgery for the Vet to “deal with” as I had nowhere to bury her. Burial for Charlie was not an option either since the family live in a rural location where foxes and bagers abound.

As I have a degree in Ceramics, and understand how to construct a small outdoor kiln capable of reaching the temperatures needed to carry out a cremation I was prepared to cremate Charlie myself if I felt I could see it through and agreed to contact the Vet if I didnt think I could manage. I had a galvanized garden incinerator which I stacked with kindling and fired up beyond 1050 degrees. Charlies Cremation took 2 1/2hrs to complete and he was back with his family the following morning.

From this event sprang the idea for “Charlies Parlour” a private Pet Cremation Service. There are very few APPCC approved private pet cremation services available to caring pet owners who want a guaranteed individual cremation of their pet, and pet owners are expected to make informed decisions about what happens to their pet after its death. I wish I hadn’t left Hovis for the vet to deal with who although were very sensitive and compassionate at the end will have kept Hovis in the freezer awaiting collection for disposal. I could not have afforded the cost of an “individual”  cremation so now realise Hovis would have been treated as Waste. I am sure things have moved on since Hovis passed, but I would still now select and use an APPCC approved service if I were not in a position to carry out my own pets cremations.

I will show you around the unit in my next blog. See you there.

An Elephant in the room!

Isn’t it strange…………

In checking out pet related blogs, websites, Vet sites etc of which there are millions – nay billions, very few acknowledge the possibility even that one day a beloved pet will sadly pass away. I have found sites that offer advice on every concievable pet related subject or service from bow ties to pregnancy scanning, but nothing on what will happen after my pet has died and how you can influence what will happen to your pets remains after its death.

There is definately an Elephant in most pet owners living rooms in addition to that other four legged life companion, and by not even acknowledging it, you run the risk of making an ill informed decision when faced with the inevitable event. You may allow yourself to get swept in to the machine that is the “VET DRIVEN PET DISPOSAL INDUSTRY”. Check out the information page on your own Vets website. You will find very useful tips on ear cleaning and worming routines, tooth care and anal evacuation,  but I do not imagine you will find very much about preparing for the loss of your pet or how to ensure you get the best possible cremation services for when the time comes. Of course many Vets are caring and sensitive to their clients needs (See my previous post), but most contract in to the large pet disposal companies for their cremation needs.

If you want a guaranteed individual cremation for your pet use an APPCC approved Private Pet Cremation Service. Visit it well before you are likely to need it and inform your Vet of your plans. In this way it will become clear that public opinion is against the Industry practice of calling several bodies in the chamber an “Individual” cremation and the practice of Token Ash will stop. Your Pet deserves the same respect and dignity after its death as it was granted during its life. Please raise the awareness of your pet loving friends around this issue. Charlies Parlour is the only Private pet Cremation Service in Wiltshire. Please use us or loose us.


Working together

We recognised very early on that we had a problem when it came to promoting Charlies Parlour through our local Veterinarians. Most Vets will use one of the large Pet Disposal Companies, and these serve their needs well enough. When we began Charlies Parlour we contacted every practice within a 20mile radius, inviting them to our premises to see what we can offer them and their clients, but were met with indifference and a reluctance to engage with us. Charlies parlour aims to offer the very highest after death services to bereaved Pet Owners and is not competing with Vets, but serves to enhance the provision that they can offer.

A case in point – recieved a call this morning on behalf of lady who’s pet cat had died and wanted to use Charlies Parlour. When the owner arrived with her cat I discovered it was the Vet who carried out the euthanasia that made the call. It was clear that this was a pet owner who really did need an alternative to the service available through her Vet, and this was recognised by a sensitive professional. A big thank you to that Vet for putting their clients interests above those of her practice.

A year on we celebrated our first year with an open evening to ecourage local vets to drop in, meet us, and see how we could work together to support their bereaved clients. Dispite an invitation to all Vets, none attended. One Vet’s receptionist did call in and we were very pleased to see her. Word is getting out there about Charlies Parlour and we are making collections from most local practices, just wish we could develop a more positive and professional relationship with them.

Please help to spread the word about Charlies Parlour. We need your support  to help this business survive.

Dixie & Patsy Fagin saying goodbye to “Charlie”

Thought you would like to see this picture. After Charlie (the Westie in the pic) died, I brought him home. Both my dogs knew something was going on so I let them say goodbye to Charlie laid out in the sitting room. They were surprised that he was not joining in their game, but after a sniff or two they left him alone and got on with their day. I think it is a good idea when a pet dies to allow other pets in the house to say good bye. They will be aware that their friend has gone and are less likely to fret over the coming days.

We carried out a cremation recently on a dwarf rabbit called “Rocky” two days later we had a call from Rocky’s owner telling us that “Ruby” his hutch mate had just died. This is not uncommon among rabbits, who will miss their companion and may go in to a decline.

This reminds me of another touching tale. “Mistie” a beautiful german shepherd was due for a home visit from the veterinarian to carry out a necessary euthanasia. “Mistie’s” life companion, a pretty cat called “Bella,” was also suffering from a terminal condition and was deteriorating. Their owners were forced to make a devastating decision to allow the Vet to put Bella to sleep so that both friends could be cremated together. It was a very sad house that day, but we were very pleased that we were able to carry out the pet owners wishes and tucked Bella under Misties front paw brfore sendind them off, and like Charlie they both appeared to be comforably asleep.

Charlies Parlour is now one year old – please spread the word about our services or call in if you happen to be passing. The kettle is always boiling!!