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Questions To Ask Your Veterinary Service Provider (VSP) About Your Pet’s Cremation

Prior to opening Life Cycle Pet Cremation, I came across a website for an independent service located in the Mid-West that was amazingly forth-right about why they opened their pet cremation business. Right on their home page they posted a no-holds-barred explanation. The experience they describe was similar to the experience my family had when our last pet passed away, and the state of the pet cremation industry they describe was identical to that of Whatcom County at the time. Paraphrasing:

“When we left our dog at the veterinary clinic for cremation, we were asked to fill out a form and pick out an urn from several cheaply made options. It was so empty and impersonal. Weeks passed before the vet called us, and during that period I began asking myself, ‘How long will he be at the clinic? Where will he go? Who is going to handle and cremate him? What assurances do I have that I’m going to get his cremated remains?’

“We looked into pet cremation and pet loss care in our area, and what we found was shocking. Our state is dominated by large corporations that provide impersonal service for hundreds of clinics. Pets are left in a freezer at the vet’s for days if not weeks, and then they are trucked miles away to an industrial facility. These wholesalers offer low prices to veterinary service providers who in turn mark up to owners, all without the pet parents’ knowledge.”

So, why don’t more pet parents ask questions about their pet’s cremation? Is it enough to simply trust the veterinary service provider (VSP)? What does the VSP mean when they say, “Oh, we’ll take care of it”? Do you really want to be left wondering, for years if not the rest of your life, what happened to your pet — where he or she went, and whether or not you really received his or her cremated remains?

Here are six questions that every pet parent should ask their VSP about their pet’s cremation:

1) Where is the crematory located?

All of the VSP’s who use Life Cycle know exactly where we are located, as do all of our clients and the public at-large. (See our Contact page for a map.)

Most VSPs in Whatcom County use a large industrial wholesale provider of pet cremation. This wholesale provider serves hundreds of clinics and shelters and is located more than one hour away. Most (if not all) of the VSPs who use this service do not know where the wholesale provider’s facility is located. “Somewhere in Seattle” is inaccurate. The facility is actually in a small town located 25 miles east of Everett. These VSPs may not even be able to tell you the physical address for the wholesale provider’s facility.

2) Have you (a representative of the VSP) ever visited the cremator’s facility?

All of the VSPs who use Life Cycle have had at least one representative visit our facility.

Most of the other VSPs in Whatcom County have never visited the wholesale provider’s facility.

3) May I inspect the facility where my pet’s cremation will take place?

Life Cycle’s facility is 100% open to the public, and our goal is to be as transparent as possible in regard to our business practices.  Tours of our facility are always available, even for drop-in visitors.

The large wholesale provider of pet cremation used by most VSPs in Whatcom County is not open to the public.

4) How long will my pet be kept here (at the VSP’s facility) and where will he/she be kept?

If you choose Life Cycle for your pet’s after-care, then same day pick-up is available and placement in a freezer at the VSP’s facility is unnecessary.

With the wholesale provider, your pet will be placed (stacked with other pets) in a chest style freezer at the VSP’s facility until the wholesale provider sends a truck up to Whatcom County (usually once a week). The pet will then be trucked south and possibly placed in another freezer before being processed.

5) When will my pet be cremated and returned to me?

At Life Cycle your pet’s after-care package will be ready for pick-up within 72-hours of order confirmation. Guaranteed.

If your pet’s cremation will be handled by another provider, the turn around could take two weeks or more.

6) Can you guarantee that I will get my pet’s cremated remains?

At Life Cycle we use steel ID tags that stay with your pet throughout the process. After cremation your pet’s steel ID tag is cleaned with a Dremel tool and attached to your pet’s bag of cremated remains before being presented to you in your pet’s after-care package. We guarantee (100%) that you will receive your pet’s cremated remains, and only your pet’s cremated remains.

A private cremation takes 1-4 hours. Large industrial providers process 100 or more pets a day and don’t have time, even with multiple crematoriums, to provide truly private pet cremation. Instead they provide semi-private cremation where pets bodies are placed into individual pans before being placed into the crematorium, and/or the bodies are divided by bricks or other dividers. These large industrial providers use paper tags, and must rely on “maps” that tell the crematory operator where each pet is located in the crematorium. With paper tags there is a margin for error.

Before we opened Life Cycle, we interviewed local pet parents who had pets cremated within the last 10 years, and over-and-over again we heard two things: “I’ve always wondered where my pet went,” and “I’ve always felt like I didn’t get my pet’s cremated remains.”


Bottom line: Your VSP may be very loyal to the service providers they use, including their pet cremation service provider, but they may not have done their due diligence. Before Life Cycle opened in 2014, VSPs didn’t really have any other option than to hire the large industrial wholesale provider of pet cremation located several counties away. However, now that there are multiple pet crematoriums in Whatcom County, this needs to change. Pet parents need to let their VSP know that they do care where their pet’s body goes for after-care, and they want a guarantee that they will receive their pet’s cremated remains.

As a pet parent in Whatcom County you now have a choice for your pet’s after-care. Don’t take any chances. Insist that your pet be cared for by a local and reputable provider like Life Cycle Pet Cremation.