A new Vaudreuil-Dorion business operating out of the city’s industrial park is offering bereaved pet owners a dignified way to say goodbye to their companion animals.
Since opening in June, Pet Friends/Nos Copains has been providing private cremation services to West Island and Off-Island pet owners who want to honour their animal’s memory in a different way.
The service, located in a small industrial building on Valois St., directly across from the city’s public works department, is owned and operated by Averil Robinson, a former Hudson resident and a long-time dog-lover.
She said she is trying to offer city and suburban dwellers an alternative to leaving their dogs, cats and other pets at a veterinary clinic after they have died or, have been euthanized, for pick up and disposal by mass incineration.
Although group animal incineration meets all legal and environmental requirements under Quebec provincial law, Robinson said, an increasing number of pet owners want a more personalized service that meets certain standards.
“People want to be sure that their pets are treated respectfully,” said Robinson. “As soon as we pick up the animal, we call the owner and let them know their pet is safely with us.”
Although Pet Friends is not the first to offer private cremation in the Greater Montreal area — Amicus opened on Montreal Island in 2008 — it does signal a growing trend in pet aftercare.
The International Association of Pet Cemeteries and Crematories, a not-for-profit industry association which sets out voluntary standards, estimates between 10 and 15 per cent of pet owners are now opting for private cremation.
Robinson said the private cremation service offered at Pet Friends allows pet owners to track the process, right up to the cremation, which pet owners can also choose to watch through a curtained viewing window.
Once the cremation is completed, she said, the animal’s ashes or cremains are returned, if the owner so wishes, usually within days, in an urn, bearing numbers that verify the day and time the cremation took place.
Since opening 10 months ago, Robinson said, she has been cremating an average of 80 pets a month, mostly cats and dogs for a fee ranging from $235 to $400.
A cremation can take between two and five hours, depending on the weight of the animal. Some pets, including birds, rabbits and turtles are done by placing the animal in a small pan in the cremator.
Almost 20 years ago, Robinson said, she was heartbroken after a cherished pet cat she called Hawkeye died at her home and she brought him to a veterinary clinic because she couldn’t bury him in her yard. Some time later, she said, she learned he had been rendered into pet food, a practise that no longer exists but sent her searching for alternatives.
“There is often a very special bond between a pet and an owner,” said Mèlanie Dionne, a West Island veterinarian working out of the Village Animal Hospital in Pointe Claire Village.
“It can help with the grieving process,” she said of private cremation, a service she estimates 15 per cent of her clients are now choosing.
She said she herself opted for a private cremation after the death of a beloved family cat to which her young son was especially attached.
“When we received the little urn back, we did this little ceremony together,” said Dionne. “It helped him to close the book.” firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @cornacchiaGAZ