Frequently asked questions
How do I know it's the ashes of my own pet and not someone else's?
Each individual pet has it's own tag with name and unique number on it.
In Hamilton, the cremator has five different sized chambers and the pet is assigned it's own chamber. Each chamber runs independently of the rest and so there may be one pet being cremated at any one time or up to five at the same time all in their individual chambers. An identification map is filled in with each pets name and number.
In Wellington, the cremator has a large hearth and the pet is placed in a predetermined position on the hearth as designated on an identification map. The map includes both the name and number of the pet and shows it's exact position in the cremator. There is plenty of room around each pet so that the bones of each pet remain quite separate during and after the cremation.
What happens to the bones once the cremation has finished?
After the cremation, the bones of each pet are identified by their whereabouts on the identification map, and they are collected separately in a named container. The bones are all that is left of your pet and they are then cremulated into ash (called cremains) and transferred to a named brown paper bag.
Is it all my pet's ashes that I get back?
It is all of your pets bones that you get back. Your pet ash is really the bone ash of your pet, as everything else has turned into carbon dioxide and water (in the case of complete combustion) and disappeared up the chimney. Sometimes metal remains from a pet's collar or orthopedic surgery are found and can be returned with the ashes if requested. However these metal parts are usually discarded as they block the cremulator which the bones go through to turn them into a fine ash.
Do you put the pets into bags before burning them?
No. Your pet can be placed in the cremator without being in a bag. Pets that arrive to us from vet clinics may be in plastic polyethylene bags and may be left in these for cremation. Plastic bags are completely combustible and do not give off any dangerous by-products as a result of burning (not like some other plastics).
No - it is the residues of embalming chemicals that are not good for the environment.
Can I cremate anything else with my pet?
Sometimes pet owners request to have a favourite toy or blanket cremated with their pet. The refractory floor which makes up the hearth can be damaged by metals such as collars, plastics and glass so it is preferable that these objects do not go with the pet for cremation. PVC plastic gives off dioxins (poisons) as it burns, and wool insulates the pet and prevents it from burning fully. Flowers, and a small amount of paper or cardboard from cards and photos are fine to include with the pet.
Can two pets be cremated together?
Yes, any number of pets can be put together for cremation as long as the owner does not want the ashes separated for each of the pets. They can also go into the same container.
Can you cremate pets that have been micro-chipped?
Yes. The little plastic chip burns up to nothing on cremation. However if the pet has a pacemaker (although this is not common in NZ), then it cannot be cremated unless the pacemaker has been removed.
What happens to my pet while waiting for cremation?
Your pet will remain in the chiller before it is cremated. We do not have a freezer so your pet will not be frozen, but sometimes pets arrive to us frozen and they will be cremated in this state.
Can I take the cremains out of the country with me?
We sometimes receive requests for a declaration letter to present to customs upon leaving the country with the cremains of a pet. We have never had customs contact us or request such a letter, but we can certainly supply you with one if only for peace of mind.
Is it better to bury or cremate my pet?
People have many different reasons for either cremating or burying their pets and it often depends on the size of the pet, and the person's circumstances as to the decision they make. However, many pet owners realise that they may not stay in the same place forever, in which case if they have buried their pet on the property, it will be left there when they move.
Can you cremate a pet that has already been buried?
Yes, as long as your pet was buried in a plastic bag or such to contain them then you will be able to exhume them and have them cremated successfully. We have cremated animals that have been several years in the ground before they were brought to us for cremation.
How should I look after the wooden casket containing my pet's cremains?
The wood can be treated with any sort of furniture polish such as Pledge or Polishing Oil. We sometimes stain the engraving if it has been lasered into the wood to make it show up more clearly, and we use a little meths on the wood to take off the smoke produced during the engraving process.