A pet cat’s skull with the ashes from the remainder of his body
If you are hoping to preserve your pet’s skull, hide or other parts, I am happy to handle the aftercare for the rest of your pet’s body. Group (“communal”) cremation service is included at no extra cost with most of my services. This type of cremation is done with multiple pets at the same time, and no ashes are returned. I can also arrange an individual (“private”) cremation for an additional charge, which is where your pet is cremated on his or her own, and you are able to get 100% of your pet’s ashes returned to you. One very important thing to remember is that the “ashes” are made of broken down bones, so if you have requested to have your pet’s entire skeleton cleaned, receiving ashes is not possible.
Why water-based cremation, and what is it?
Water-based cremation, or “aquamation,” is an alternative to traditional flame cremation that uses heated water and alkali salts to mimic and accelerate the body’s natural decomposition process. The process is gentler and slower than flame cremation (about a full day vs. two or three hours), and one of the benefits is that you get more of your pet’s ashes back. This is because cremation with fire creates strong air currents that are vented through a stack. As bone breaks down into what we call “ash,” it’s inevitable that some is displaced and lost. Aquamation uses gently circulating heated (not boiling) water, allowing the remains to stay in place and letting you take home about 20% more of your pet’s ashes.
Aquamation is also much gentler on the environment, not creating emissions or greenhouse gases, and is about 90% more energy efficient than flame-based cremation. You can read more detailed information about aquamation here: Aquamation Info.
What do my pet’s ashes get returned in?
Ashes are returned in a rectangular container (see photo at top) made of pressed mulberry tree bark. Inside, the ashes are contained inside a secured bag. The container is sturdy enough to be a long-term resting place, is suitable for direct burial (both the container and bag are biodegradable – please just remove the twist tie securing your bag before burying) or for being a short-term solution until your scatter or transfer the remains.
What if I don’t want to use aquamation?
I realize that aquamation is still relatively uncommon, and if for any reason you are uncomfortable having your pet go through this process or just prefer to use flame-based cremation, please let me know and I will arrange that for you. Likewise, if you have a particular crematory you wish to use, I am happy to work with them as long as they are within a reasonable drive of the Salem, OR area. Using a different crematory will likely change the cost of services and the type of container you receive the ashes in.
Can I bring my pet in just for cremation?
I started offering cremation to compliment my other services, as I don’t feel that a family should have to see their pet’s body after I’ve prepared it for skull cleaning or removed the hide for tanning. If you are looking just for cremation services, I recommend contacting your local crematory directly, or if you are specifically looking for water-based cremation, contact Compassionate Care in Oregon City. I think it makes the most sense for you to bring your pet personally to the crematory of your choosing so that you can develop a relationship directly with them.
Limits on Cremation Services
If you are requesting services for a very large pet, like a horse, please know that I do not have a stock trailer and cannot pickup or transport a body much larger than a very large dog, nor can I handle the remainder of the aftercare for you. If you have a large animal companion whose health is failing, I encourage you to explore your options as much as possible ahead of time so that you’re prepared when you need aftercare services. I’ll do my best to help, so don’t hesitate to call.