The Association of Private Pet Cemeteries & Crematoria (APPCC) is mounting acampaign aimed at pet owners and veterinary practices to make them more aware of the misrepresentation of cremation services.

APPCC logoAccording to the association, all APPCC members adhere to a strict code of practice ensuring that referring veterinary practices and the general public get what they are paying for.

Vice chairman Stephen Mayles said that vets should look more closely at the service they are offering their customers. He said: “Unless a crematorium is one of our members, all kinds of systems may be used to cut costs and increase profits. Various methods of cremating pets together and inferring they are individual are often used.

“Most vets seem to think that all pet crematoria are the same. Therefore, they may use whoever gives them the best deal, particularly if it involves a cheap way of collecting their veterinary waste. Unfortunately, there is usually a reason why a service is cheap and things are not always what they seem. This is where a vet is taking an enormous risk.

“If they ‘sell’ an individual or communal cremation to a pet owner, it is the same as any other commercial transaction. They, not the so-called pet crematorium, will be responsible to Trading Standards if that service is mis-sold. Pet owners trust their vets to take care of their animals when they are alive and put their trust in the vet to look after their pets when they die.”

Kevin Spurgeon, a director of the APPCC, said: “We want to work more closely with vets to ensure they do not get in a position where their reputation is tarnished for offering cremation services that are not what they seem.

“Businesses in this industry are often very good at selling the concept of what they do. They may refer to the APPCC as an elite group who try to keep others out. Our membership is open to all establishments that offer pet burial and cremation services that are correctly carried out according to a clearly described standard. We believe the pet owner has a right to receive the service they are expecting and are paying for. If that makes us an elite group then it says something about the state of the pet bereavement industry.”

What can vets do to make sure the service(s) they are using are properly licensed and genuine?
Firstly, vets have a duty of care to ensure that all their veterinarywaste including deceased pets are being removed and taken to properlylicensed premises.

Vets should keep a copy of the relevant licenses forthe crematorium(s) they are using: professional registration or wastecarriers license (for transport of pets and ashes), EnvironmentalPermit or Waste Management Licence (for cremation / burial), Animal ByProducts Regulations approval (issued by Animal Health) for cremator/incinerator if under 50kg/hr capacity –NB the cremator must not be used for SRM (Specified Risk Material) ifused for returning ashes.

Vets should also obtain writtenconfirmation as to how each service is performed. If thecrematorium/cemetery is a member of the APPCC then this makes life mucheasier as they will adhere to a set code of practice (available If not then vets shouldask for a detailed explanation as to how the company performs thedifferent services (individual and communal cremation) and whathappens to the ashes if not returned to the owner.

The APPCC hasbeen involved in several Trading Standards cases including ones wherewell known pet crematoria have put misleading information in theirliterature regarding the scattering of ashes in remembrance gardens,when actually the ashes have been consigned to a landfill site.

KevinSpurgeon said: “This kind of misrepresentation damages not only the petcrematorium and vet concerned but the reputation of the whole industry.Ideally we would like to see vets doing more research and using aspecialist company for pet cremation or burial and a specialist wastecompany for their disposal work.

“We are lucky to have some ofthe best and most dedicated small specialist pet crematoria in theworld in the UK and more vets should try giving their clients a choiceof local crematoria and cemeteries should the owner want anindividual service. People always remember the way you handled thedeath of their pet so why not give them the best service possible?”

Details of APPCC members can be found at or by telephoning the national helpline 01252 844478. Veterinary staff can also sign up for a free report and information updates via the APPCC website.

Earlier this year the association produced an informative pet bereavement leaflet for use in veterinary practices. It can be downloaded from their website or copies can be obtained from your nearest APPCC member.

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