Hello! I’m the supervisor at a pet crematory. Ask me anything!
I always try to find out in the arrangement if the pet has had any knee or hip replacements because the metal does survive the cremation process and we are able to return it with the cremated remains if they want.
I’m glad that the crematory you used was thoughtful enough to return them!
What are the biggest and smallest pets you’ve cremated?
(Also as someone who has mostly owned large dogs over a lifetime, thank you for your work)
Biggest animal would probably be a llama! ~400lbs
Biggest dog was about 285lbs. English Mastiff!
Our company does not have machines big enough to do horses but there are other companies who do.
Smallest animal was a field mouse that an owners cat dragged in the house.
So how much did they pay to get a field mouse cremated? Was there a service?
We pay about $35-50 for a private cremation for our hamsters, I forget the exact charge. We don't hold any kind of service, but we do spend a few minutes with them on a quiet table/bench area before we let them go.
Now I'm wondering about the furnace you use. What fuel? How hot does it get? Is there different temperatures depending on type of pet or is it more dependant on burn time? Do you have more than one? I'm really curious! :'D
Up to 1800 degrees!
There is gas connected to the machines to get them going but the fat from the animals also works as fuel.
We have 5 machines!
How common is it for people to cremate their pets these days?
Thank you for what you do. I've had 5 of my rainbow bridge kitties cremated because I want their ashes buried with me.
I promised them I'd keep them forever.
Pet cremation is actually growing in popularity. Our numbers have almost doubled in the last 4 years.
Lots of people are living in apartments or renting and aren’t able to bury their pet. People like to be able to take their pet with them if they move or want to be buried with them just like you!
If a client pays for a private cremation, how private is it?
At my company we do our private cremations the same as humans. Only one pet in the chamber at a time.
Other companies do “private” cremations that are really separate cremations. They space pets in the chamber with fire-retardant bricks between them but you will still receive only your pet back.
Just popping in to make sure everyone knows that humans and pets are not cremated in the same retort. That’s illegal. Not saying that’s what you stated but just don’t want others to be confused.
Absolutely, the humans have a separate crematory with their own machines. Human remains are not allowed in the pet crematory and vice versa.
How often do people wait too long to put their pets down? I work in the industry and have seen for some reason people like to wait for family to be around like durning the holidays.
Too be honest, it’s not an easy decision to make so I try not to blame to family. They usually know what is best.
What is done with the ashes of animals who've been communally cremated?
We use to have a place in the mountains that we scattered on but now we have a pet cemetery with a underground structure for people to visit!
Has anyone ever asked you to cremate something that...wasnt a pet?
But I have been sent to a home to pick up remains of a pet that was “buried in the garden 10 years ago”.
I convinced myself on the way over that the guy was a murderer.
But, I looked at the bones and they were definitely a pet!
Three years ago, the beloved pet cat I had for a little over 16 years (from when I was age 4 to age 21) passed away. My dad's friend from high school happened to run a pet cremation service and we went through them to get a private cremation. Her remains came home in a little gift box, but I got my dad to make her her own wooden box. When it was done, she had been in the gift box for maybe two months and I hadn't looked inside. For those first few months, I had this weird imperative not to "disturb" her ashes and I got VERY angry at anyone who moved the box.
When it was time to transfer her ashes from one box to another, we finally opened up the gift box and found inside a plastic ziplock baggy containing her ashes, labeled with her name, and I had a good laugh. I didn't realize how very little ash a cremation produces. Honestly, she could have fit in a box 1/10th the size of the one my dad made. He felt bad. I felt great about it--I thought she deserved a big box.
Is there any reason the cremation process produces such little ash? I assume it's only the bone we're getting, but a cat skeleton still seems like a big thing to me.
Also, do you throw away any of the ash that isn't "pretty"? I was kind of stunned by how pretty my cat's ashes were. They were kind of white-ish and all very homogenous. I was expecting there to be little pieces of bone mixed in with the ash and some soot, ya know, because you can't realistically make sure EVERYTHING gets burned.
Then it occurred to me that they probably can only get so much of the ash out of the oven and they probably select only the pretty stuff to give back to clients. Is that true?
I had this weird obsession with making sure I had "all of her together" in the box, but as I processed the grief and became more rational about it, I realized it was probably impossible.
At my company, we try to get all of the recoverable remains in the chamber. We do a pretty thorough sweep with 3 brushes ending in a hand brush to get as much of the remains as possible. Of course it might not be 100% but pretty close. The machine is made of brick and sometimes a little bit of it comes out with the pet as well.
You are correct. Cremated remains are the bone remaining from the cremation process. The bones come out in large pieces and we place them into an industrial processor to make them into small little pebbles or “ash” depending on how fine the remains are processed.
We never throw away any ash, it is mostly white but sometimes there are little specks of color as well.
Kitties don’t have that big of a skeleton, they always fit in our smallest urn, no matter what. I’m glad yours got a big one!
What color is your toothbrush?
Whats the weirdest request a pet owner has made at the crematory? (if any)
I’ve been asked more than once to pull teeth for the owners to keep. Mostly from police officers bringing in their police dogs.
Also, to cut the tip of the ear off for the owner.
We don’t provide those services so we tell the owners do it themselves before they bring the pet in, if they must.
Are you able to cremate aninals with their belongings? I work at animal hospital and owners sometimes want a blanket/clothing/toy cremated with them so we tell them we'll make a note about it, but I'm sure sure if this can actually be done!
Yes absolutely! We usually tend to tell our clinics to avoid large blankets or baby blankets because they are flame-retardant and hinder the cremation process but a small “symbolic” piece of the blanket is always allowed.
We can do toys as well as long as they are not hard rubber and absolutely DO NOT have batteries.
I like to have my families write a note and seal it in an evelope to send with the pet, as a little extra!
Have you ever made a bad mix up mistake? When my parrot passed away a few years ago, they did a group cremation although we asked for a private cremation and although it was the end of the world, we were already dealing with the loss of our beloved bird and that on top made it even harder at the time. Have you ever had a mistake like that?
Mistakes like that do happen. They are awful and make everyone involved feel terrible.
But we are human. It happens and although we make mistakes, we are always honest with our families.
Private cremations get done as communal cremations occasionally but that’s usually because an error of communication between the team and the families.
Sometimes paw prints get missed or fur clippings and it’s hard to see the disappointment on people’s faces when you can’t give them the last piece of their loved one that they wanted.
I appreciate my company because we are honest. Sounds like your crematory was as well. They could have easily given you different cremated remains and you wouldn’t know the difference.
I’m very sorry that happened to you though.
How much do you make? How did you decide to go into this business fresh out of high school?
I wanted to be a funeral director, thought it was a good start. They were hiring interns.
In what ways would the film Pet Crematory be more boring than Pet Sematary?
Would you be surprised if I say I’ve never seen/read it?
I haven’t ever been a fan of Stephen King...
Does the emotional significance of your work affect you?
It stresses me out sometimes honestly.
I definitely take very seriously the nature of our business and the amount of trust people have in us.
It definitely takes a toll sometimes when a mistake is made. Luckily it’s not often but the guilt can really show you the emotional significance of the job that I’m in.
Has anyone ever requested to be present during cremation? If so, what do you tell them?
Yes, we have witnessings available if people would like to be present.
They would witness the pet being placed into the chamber and have the option to start the machine. They usually don’t stay the whole time because it take a few hours but they would receive the pet back the same day.
We also don’t allow them to stay in the crematory the whole time as we have other pets to cremate that they don’t need to see.
We also warn them that the crematory is a very industrial setting, not like what you see in movies. It’s very loud and a hard thing to watch.
Does your company do anything with pet ashes besides urn displays? What are some of the most memorable memorial pieces you've seen created from a pets remains?
We work with a company that will blow glass around the cremated remains and turn them into a beautiful work of art! They also make glass pendants for jewelry as well!
Other than that, anything that can be done with human cremated remains can also be done with pets! There are so many great options out there!
Can you share the name of that company? We have a husky that is at the end of his life and would like do do this when he passes.
I’m sure there is a local company near you but we use memory glass
What’s the most unusual animal you’ve cremated?
Do most pets people bring in look cosmetically ok, or have they been necropsied or are they like roadkills or something?
What do you think of turning pet ashes into diamonds? Do you have to do something different for those?
Bearded dragons, alpacas, coyotes, pot belly pigs, chickens, mice, sugar gliders?
Depends on what you find unusual.
Most of the pets brought in are cosmetically OK. Usually some minor bleeding around the face and some leaking from the bottom. We do pick up pets that have had necropsys and have been completely taken apart and not put back together. Occasional roadkill. Sometimes maggots.
I haven’t looked into making cremated remains into diamonds but I’m sure it’s possible and beautiful! Anything you can do with human cremated remains, you can also do for pets.
Do you ever have to cremate animals that aren't fully intact?
Yes, sometimes medical waste. Sometimes amputated limbs.
how long does it take for an average cat and and average dog to get cremated?
It depends on the temperature of the machine and the size of the pet.
On average it takes about 2-3 hours for a cat and 4–5 hours for a larger dog.
Are the animals always dead before cremation?
We occasionally have people call and ask if they can bring in their live pet for cremation
We tell them that needs to be taken care of before the pet is brought into our care.
What’s the weirdest pet someone has had?
A wild Javelina that chooses to live in this couples back yard.
How much do local laws and regulations affect the amount of business a pet crematory will get? Meaning, if laws in an area are more restrictive about burying pets, do crematories tend to do better business?
I suppose the local laws would have an affect. We have laws about only being allowed to bury outside city limits and a certain depth. Not that everyone follows the law.
Most cities also have disposal services as well that are free, but it is just disposal.
Do you believe in ghosts? Pet ghosts?
Have you thought you heard a strange noise when doing a cremation?
What is the cremation process?
No, I do not believe in ghosts.
I’ve never heard any strange noises but my crematory operator works with humans and says that sometimes when gasses are releasing from the body in the cremation chamber there is an occasional “groan”.
Cremation process is different everywhere you go! I’m not sure if I’m allowed to share our process on the internet, I’ll ask my boss
Have you thought about switching to water cremation instead? Since burning uses a lot of energy and results in CO2 emissions. See e.g. https://www.nationalgeographic.com/science/2019/11/is-cremation-environmentally-friendly-heres-the-science/
We’ve looked into it but the machines are very expensive. Our machines now are close to $50,000 each. I can’t imagine how expensive water cremation is.
Do you have any frequent flyers?
Yes, I have my regulars.
Usually people who have rescues.
Lots of old cat ladies!
Read some of the other comments. What is the difference between a private and communal cremation?
Private is where the pet is cremated by themselves and all of the cremated remains are returned to the owner in an urn.
Communal is where the pet is placed into the chamber with other pets, they are all cremated together and the remains are scattered in our pet cemetery for the people to visit if they’d like.
What would you do if your own pet had died or had already died, would you get a fellow CO worker to cremate them or would you do it yourself?
We have crematory operators who do the actual cremation. I would have another co-worker set up the paperwork though.
Have you ever had to cremate one of your pets or a animal you personally knew?
Yes, I have unfortunately had to use my own service twice in the last 2 years.
My baby girl(dog)of over 10 years lost her battle with cancer last year and I chose a communal cremation.
I was always a bit unsure if the remains that i would receive would actually be my dog....
Until I had my Great Dane cremated and some morbid curiosity drew me to look inside the heavy plastic bag. I found the steel plate and 3 screws that were put in her leg when she was hit by a truck. Kinda cool actually and I plan to make a ring out of it. She was a great dog.
So, I'm guessing after she was cremated they just scooped everything up, metal bits and all?Have you encountered that before?
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