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2004 Consumer Guide for pet owners

When a loved companion pet dies, grieving owners and friends often are confronted with dozens of decisions about the funeral- all which must be made quickly and often under great emotional duress. What kind of funeral should it be? What funeral provider should you use? Should you bury or cremate the body? How much is this going to cost?

Each year, Americans grapple with the many questions as they spend millions of dollars arranging for more than one million funerals for family pets. The increasing trend toward pre-need planning-when pet owners make funeral arrangements in advance -suggests that many want to compare prices and services so that ultimately, the funeral reflects a wise and well-informed purchasing decision, as well as a meaningful one.


Thinking ahead can help you make informed and thoughtful decisions about funeral arrangements. It allows you to choose the specific items you want and need and compare the prices offered by several providers. It also spares you the stress of making these decisions under the pressure of time and strong emotions.

If you are considering prepaying for funeral services and or merchandise, it's important to consider these issues before putting down money.

- What are you paying for? Are you buying goods or services, like a urn.
- What happens to the money you've prepaid? States have different requirements for handling funds paid for prearranged pet funeral services.
- Can you cancel the contract and get a refund if you change your mind?
- What happens to the interest income on money that is prepaid and put into trust?

Calculating the Actual Cost

The pet funeral provider must give you an itemized statement of total cost of the funeral. The pet funeral provider does not require any specific format for this information. Pet funeral providers may include it in any document they give you at the end of your discussion about arrangements. Its a good idea to revise your decision every few years.

What to know about cemeteries and crematories

How to evaluate the facilities

All pet owners should investigate the pet cemetery/crematory and ask questions about the facility’s practices. Although such inquiries may seem invasive, pet owners should keep in mind that the pet cemetery/crematory industry is largely unlicensed and, even where it is regulated, enforcement is inconsistent. Pet owners should ask the following questions when visiting pet cemeteries/crematories.

What kind of records does the facility keep?

How long are the records retained?

What type of system does the facility use to identify the body bags in which animals are received?

How will the facility handle multiple transfers from veterinary clinics to prevent loss of an individual body’s identification tag?

Are the bodies provided with toe tags or identification collars so that they can be identified even if they become displaced from the bags in which they are transported?

Where and how are the bodies stored after receipt by the facility and before disposal?

Does the facility have refrigeration and freezer capacity to accommodate the volume?

What method is used to identify patients’ individual ashes and store and transport them after cremation?

If the facility provides for burials, what size plot is allocated for each animal?

How many animals can be buried in a plot or grave?

What is the daily capacity of crematorium furnaces?

What is the breakdown between the number of communal cremations versus individual cremations?

How does the facility ensure that ashes of individually cremated pets are only those of the pet being cremated?

What is the largest sized body that can be cremated in the facility’s furnaces?

Can the facility handle large breed dogs or small farm animals?

If communal cremations are provided, how many animals are cremated at a time?

Are pet owners permitted to observe the cremation or burial?

What is the standard turnaround time for receipt of a body to return of the ashes to the owner?

What kind of packaging is used for the ashes, and can owners open the containers and view the ashes?

What type of fuel (Fuel oil or Natural gas) is used in the cremation?

Has the facility been inspected by the state, and, if so, when was the last inspection?

Are there any fenced-off portions of land in the cemetery area?

What number of pets are handled annually? Does the facility have access to sufficient land to sustain its growth for the next 5-20 years?

Does the facility engage in any business other than pet disposal? For instance, does it burn medical waste, and, if so, are the ashes from that process mixed with animal cremations?

Do the furnaces meet the EPA requirements for the location?

IAPC, 6 N. 441 Catalpa Ave, Wood Dale, IL 60191 | General Information: francis2b@aol.com