Pet Cremation Demystified.  Part 5 of 9

By Patrick Couture
Director of Resting Paws Cemetery & Crematorium Inc.
Woodlawn, ON.

In the first four segments we discussed the basics and ended with the processing of cremated remains a.k.a. CREMAINS. This is where education is key to knowing if you are getting the service you paid for.  There are generally three types of cremation offered from providers: private, segregated and communal. To better understand these terms let’s take a look at each one of them and tell you what are the pros and cons for you the client and for us as the provider.

The next three posts will discuss in details each of these processes.

Private Cremation & Witnessing the Cremation:

This service is performed in the same manner as it would be done for a human family member. This means that your companion and only your companion is placed in the crematory. The ashes are returned to you in and urn or pouch (See pictures 1 – 4).

The pros for you: You are guaranteed that 98+% of the ashes will be returned to you. There is no chance of cross contamination within the chamber. You can choose to be present onsite and witness the cremation. 

The cons: The cost of cremation is higher. Some providers charge a premium for witnessing the event. You will need to take time off work to be at the crematory and cremation is not an exact science so you might need to wait past your appointment time.

The pros for the provider: There is no chance for error. The process is performed efficiently with an appropriately sized retort and other income can be generated by providing witnessing at a premium. Resting Paws does not charge for witnessing, however, penalties are charged for tardiness.

The cons: If you own a high capacity retort the financial potential is reduced. Time must be spent arranging witnessing of the event. It is not possible to maximise the efficiency of the retort when performing sequential cremations. Proper sequencing matters in cremation, larger pets should be cremated first followed by smaller ones as the day progresses. Longer retort cooling times are required between each event and if a client is late, the schedule is thrown off and everyone after is penalised. This is why we inforce penalties for tardiness. We always ask that people be present 15 min prior to their appointment.


Pic 1: Remains of a 12 kg private cremation; notice the ashes are scattered throughout the chamber


Pic 2: Remains brought close to the chute


Pic 3: Hearth swept for remaining ashes


Pic 4: Ready for the next cremation


If you look closely at the two top pictures, you can notice a red glow on the hearth.  This is not a reflection from the secondary chamber, it is actually the hearth cement that is glowing red hot. This is why a cool down period is required between witnessing. However, this cool down is short lived as before inserting another companion we need the chamber to reach 1000° C. This is mandated by the Ministry of the Environment. For this reason, we warn people witnessing that they might not want to look when the pet is inserted. On such a hot surface you can imagine that spontaneous combustion does take place.

Although for most people it is inconceivable for them to be present for a myriad of reasons and we respect this decision. For others that take the leap and trust our judgement this final journey is the beginning of their closure. Many say to us “we saw – Fluffy – come into this world and we will stand by his/her side until the end.”

I’ll always be beside you, until the very end.
Comforting you when you whimper, being your best friend.
I’ll caress your head to comfort you, and feel the pain you do.
I will be strong for you, and I promise not to prolong your suffering for my benefit.

As you take your last breath, I’ll cry too.

In the next post we will discuss Semi-Private cremation.

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