Most pet cremation facilities provide a list of services and prices based on the type(s) of cremation they offer. Your first step toward making informed choices about pet cremation starts with learning about the terms and definitions used by cremation providers.
Although a couple of independent organizations such as the Pet Loss Professionals Alliance (PLPA) are working to establish common standards and regulations, the lack of standardization sometimes makes it possible for two providers to use the same term, but mean something different. Therefore, it is extremely important that you understand exactly what services you are actually purchasing.
If you are still unsure after viewing a provider’s list of services, the following guideline to pet cremation methods will be helpful in communicating with the provider to make sure you understand what you are getting.
There are basically three pet cremation methods: private, individual, and communal. Essentially, your chosen method will depend on whether you do, or do not, want your pet’s ashes back, and how much you want to spend on the cremation.
It is very important to ask the provider for clarification on exactly what they mean by the following terms: private cremation, individual cremation, partitioned cremation, and communal (or community) pet cremation.
In a truly private cremation, the body of only one pet is placed alone in the cremation chamber. No other pet will be cremated at the same time as your pet. After your pet is cremated, the crematory will return your pet’s cremated remains (ashes) to you. Only the ashes of your pet are involved in this type of cremation. This is generally the most expensive type of cremation.
Some cremation providers may define “individual” cremation as placing the bodies of several pets in the cremation chamber, but keeping them individually separated through some physical means such as clay bricks, separate cremation trays, etc. This is also known as a partitioned pet cremation.
Even though the bodies are physically separated, some unavoidable mingling of the ashes of the cremated pets is possible when this method is used.
The cost of this service is usually less than the cost of a private cremation, but higher than a communal pet cremation.
With communal pet cremation, the bodies of several pets are placed in the cremation chamber and cremated at the same time. The ashes of all the pets are mingled during the process. Ashes are not returned to the owner if this method is chosen. The crematory is responsible for disposing of the ashes, usually by scattering in a designated area. This method is the least expensive of the three.
Do your research, take the time to ask questions, and make sure you understand the answers. This is the key to ensuring that your wishes will be respected and followed. Make sure that your final good-bye to your pet creates a lasting remembrance that will bring you comfort and good memories of your special companion for years to come.