When a pet dies
Nicci Ball advises on how to organise a funeral for a loved pet, and points out that there are benefits to giving the family pet a dignified farewell ceremony.
It is possible to arrange a funeral for a pet with as much dignity and sensitivity as we give to our human loved ones.
There are a number of companies that help with every aspect of your pet’s burial/cremation.
Contact them in advance to make the animal’s farewell, and its effect on the people who loved the animal, as well organised and comforting as possible.
Involve the children in this so they understand the importance of marking the end of a life with a suitable 'closure', and the work and responsibilities this entails.
Pet burial and cremation
There are dedicated burial and cemeteries for pets throughout the UK.
The Association of Private Pet Cemeteries and Crematoria has a list of companies licensed by the Environment Agency. All licensed companies comply with the association’s code of practice.
Vets do not usually offer individual cremation as standard but contract out to large disposal firms. They will charge for this.
Local authorities provide a disposal service and this is usually free of charge for small pets.
The cost of burial and cremation varies depending on the size of your pet and the level of service you require.
Pet funeral companies will usually collect your pet from the vets, or your home. Transport costs will vary depending on the distance they have to travel.
Most pet funeral companies offer a prepayment plan so that you can plan in advance or in instalments.
Insurance companies such as Direct Line also offer policies that cover the cost of pet funerals.
If you would prefer to lay your pet to rest in your own garden or other private land - with the consent of the owner - a number of companies offer a home service and will supply coffins (or caskets) and memorial stones.
However, the pet grave memorial that marks the grave is something that the family can create together to make the passing of a pet, and the pet funeral ceremony more positive.
Pet coffins and caskets are now increasingly popular and made to a high standard.
A traditional joinery company has started a specialist business called Farewell My Pet which sells caskets for pets online.
And if you want your pet to be buried in a good quality environmentally friendly casket (or coffin) Earth To Heaven offer a range made out of woven willow.
Horses, ponies and donkeys
Since 2003 it is no longer possible to bury your horse or pony on private property due to Environment Agency Regulations.
Only horses, ponies and donkeys that have been put to sleep using the humane pistol method can be buried in pet cemeteries. Animals put to sleep via the injection method must be cremated.
Equine Farewells Nationwide offers a comprehensive service dealing with all aspects of funeral care. The Horse Cremation Service offers prepayments and covers every detail of equine cremation.
As well as taking care of important practical funeral arrangements for your horse or pony, these companies also can help you select poems and prayers that can allow you to say a dignified farewell to your animal.
The costs vary depending on the size of your horse but usually are between £500 and £600.
Important things to know about pet funerals
- There are reputable companies that can help you arrange the farewell you want for your pet. If your pet dies at home they will collect your pet and take it to a pet funeral home;
- Pet plans are available to help you prepare for the loss of your pet. Most pet plans do not cover funeral costs so arrange a special policy;
- Children can be deeply upset by the loss of a pet and it is important to involve them in the grieving process and talk about their feelings. The Blue Cross and Dogs Trust offer a bereavement counselling advice;
- If your vet is going to put down your pet, tell him or her that you want to make your own arrangements for your pet’s funeral;
- Rules regarding the burial of your horse or pony in your own grounds may vary depending on your local authority and Environment Agency legislation so it always advisable to check with your vet on the correct procedures.
There are as many ways to remember pets as there are to remember humans. These include pet coffins, urns for their ashes, memorial plaques.