Problems with your pet’s ashes

I don’t like the way the ashes of my pet have been returned to me. What can I do about it?

There are two aspects to this question. Firstly, you may not like the presentation of the ashes. Secondly, you may not like the actual condition of the ashes. You may think they are too dark, too lumpy or perhaps not enough or too little.

When the ashes are returned they should be a silver grey colour and have been prepared to fine granules suitable for scattering. If they are black then it means the cremation has not been carried out properly and the regulations have been breached. You should report this to your vet if you arranged the cremation through them or to the State Veterinary Service at your local Animal Health office if you arranged it directly with the crematorium. If there are large lumps of bone in the remains then it makes them very difficult to scatter and if it is a concern then you should return them to the crematorium and ask them to prepare them properly. The actual quantity of ash does vary according to the type and condition of the pet and can be anything from 2% to 6% of the pet’s weight. If you have an amount outside those limits then you should question the fact with the crematorium. If the answer is unsatisfactory then please contact the Association of Private Pet Cemeteries & Crematoria.

People have different expectations about the return of the ashes and you should have been given enough information before you made your choice to have a good idea of what to expect. Some like a very simple return, others a more elaborate one. This is one aspect where the crematorium is unable to please all of the people all of the time. When cremations are arranged through the vet details may get overlooked or the staff may let their own opinions influence what they offer their clients. Some crematoria offer a much wider range of options than others.

If you do not like the presentation then you should speak directly to the crematorium or pet undertakers that packed the ashes. They will most likely have other options and will normally be happy to repack the ashes for you. If you do not get any satisfaction from this then go to the Association website. You will find links to all the members’ websites as well as the supplier members and you will likely be able to find what you are looking for.  It is difficult for the Association to advise members on the best way to present ashes as one person may love a particular option whereas another may find it abhorrent. It really can be that extreme. The key to getting what you want is to talk directly to the person who will be packing your ashes and do not try to go through a third party as this will only complicate the matter.

One final word about presentation.  Over the last 20 years we have seen a great improvement in the standard of caskets and urns that are available. Prices have come down and the quality has gone up but this is mainly because of imports from the Far East and Eastern Europe. Local manufacturers struggle to provide quality for such a low price. If this concerns you then why not use the feedback section of the APPCC website make known how you feel. Would you like to see more local goods used?  Should the source and type of timber be declared? Would you prefer very simple containers if you are going to scatter the ashes? Would you like to see a bigger choice or do you think the choice is too bewildering? In fact anything you like – if you are happy or unhappy with a service then let the APPCC know.