The owner of an Illinois pet cemetery, Joe Abts, reportedly committed suicide last Wednesday after the start of an investigation by the Tazewell County Sheriff’s Department for allegedly fraudulent behaviour in providing customers with “fake ashes”. It is not clear whether the customers received the ashes of pets other than their own or whether they received ashes that did not originate from the remains of deceased pets.
Either way, the ashes were not those of the customer’s deceased pet. The pet cemetery was founded in 1984 and is therefore a very long-standing business. The sheriff’s department received a complaint early in July. The complaint alleged that deceased pets had not been cremated when the owner had paid for the service. The remains of three pets were found in a freezer lying outside on the property by Richie Rich an animal rescue volunteer. There were three animals inside. One of which had a microchip. The owner of the animal was identified and was known to have received their pet’s ashes. Therefore the ashes were not those of her/his pet. The animal was a cat that had purportedly been cremated in 2013.
The investigation even found an animal from 2001. This implies that the fraud had been going on for a very long time. It would seem that the criminal aspect of this case has to be closed because the alleged perpetrator of the crime is now deceased. However, pet owners can bring a civil action against the crematorium for compensation. The crematorium is: Katy’s Pet Cemetery and Crematory.
I feel I have to comment about this. This is firstly a very sad case because the person allegedly involved in the fraud has committed suicide. However, it is also sad because it would seem that many hundreds, perhaps thousands of cat and dog owners have not received the ashes of their beloved, deceased companion animal. How do they feel now? It must be distressing.
The story does, however, bring to mind the great difficulty of ensuring that the ashes that you receive from a pet crematorium are those of your cat or dog. I don’t think you can guarantee it unless, as I did, you take your deceased cat to a pet crematorium and you instruct an individual cremation and then you watch your cat being carried to the oven. You place your cat in the oven. You watch the door being closed. You watch the oven being turned on et cetera. In short, you supervise the whole process. Then, you know with 100% certainty that the ashes that you take home which you place in an urn and possess for the remainder of your life are those of your dearly beloved deceased cat.
P.S. Without in any way being disrespectful, true ashes of a deceased animal do not contain any DNA from the animal. They could be the ashes of anything and therefore the connection between the ashes and the pet is an emotional one.
sources: various online including the Daily Mail, WQAD.com and Patch.com.