There is an interesting story in the newspapers today about pet cremations; a subject which has always concerned me. When I have my deceased cat cremated I make sure that I see her/him go into the oven and that (s)he is the only cat in the oven and removed from the oven which all sounds macabre and it is tough emotionally but it is one way of ensuring that the ashes that you keep at your home for the remainder of your life are those of your dear, departed cat companion. It is more expensive but I can’t see the point in having a cremation and keeping the ashes unless you know for sure that the ashes are certainly hers/his.
In the UK the owner of a pet crematorium cheated customers by taking their pets including cats and dogs for cremation but returning to them the ashes of any animal (assuming that they were ashes of animals and not of some other object). In short, the pet owners were taking home any old ashes from an unknown source. I wonder how often this happens both in respect of pets and humans?
Alan McMasters, 52, a sole trader, got out of his depth if we are to be generous towards to him. At one time he was only cremating horses, a specialist service. Then he appears to have extended his service to include cats and dogs and other pets and in time found that he was taking in too many which may be one reason why he ended up defrauding his customers.
He was caught by trading standards officers with chest freezers full of dead pets at his Pit Pet Crematorium in Gnosall, Staffordshire. The officers found plastic bin liners and cement bags full of ashes. It seems that he was throwing away the bodies of the pets and delivering ashes from other sources to customers but I’m guessing that. Perhaps he was trying to save on gas for the burners. It takes 12 hours to cremate a horse.
McMasters admitted five charges of fraud of “knowingly returning the wrong ashes to clients”. He also admitted charges of failing to comply with animal bi-product regulations.
Some of his customers were returners. They employed McMasters to cremate their pets over a long period of time and of course they are now wondering whether the ashes that they have at home have any connection whatsoever to their beloved, deceased pet.
In the title to this article I asked whether it matters. That might sound callous. Obviously, it does matter on an emotional level. But on a physical or scientific level it doesn’t because there are no DNA properties left in the ashes of the deceased cat. There is no physical connection in the ashes that you have from the crematorium to the living cat that you loved. Perhaps that does not matter because, as mentioned, it is an emotional connection. Perhaps this is served by simply knowing that the ashes are from your cat even if all ashes are all the same.
McMasters was convicted and ordered to carry out 200 hours of community service under a 12 month community order and ordered to pay £6,435 in costs and compensation including £500 to each of four known victims of his fraud. He has been allowed to reopen his pet crematorium which I find surprising but his licence was restored because he has improved his premises and his methods.