ON-SITE CREMATION SERVICES
Prior to the mid-1980’s, cremation of pet remains was the exception rather than the norm. Since then, cremation has become more readily available and in many communities is actively encouraged by vet clinics. These clinics often have agreements with major pet cremation operators to provide communal or return-of-ash cremations. At Thistledown we provide personal cremation services to our clients; we do not provide wholesale cremation services to any veterinary clinic.
There are no regulations in place in Ontario regarding the manner in which deceased pets are handled or cremated. There are also no regulations regarding the terminology used in describing the nature of the cremation (e.g. Dedicated, Private, Communal, etc.) or with respect to what the term “Return of Ash” actually means. It is for these reasons, we encourage pet owners to ask:
where their pet will be cremated;
whether they can visit the crematorium;
whether they can be present during the cremation of their pet if they believe that would help them cope with the loss of their pet; and
will the ashes they receive be their pet, only their pet, and all of their pet.
If cremation is offered by their clinic, we encourage pet owners to determine if anyone from the clinic has ever visited or viewed a cremation at their provider’s facility. (see the Glossary page on this web site for terminology definitions)
Thistledown Pet Memorial was established in 1998 to provide the personal service that so many pet owners require prior to and following the passing of their pet. Over the years, Thistledown Pet Memorial has been meeting the needs of pet owners throughout the GTA, in other parts of the province, in other provinces, and internationally. One only has to chat with any of our clients or to visit the “Testimonials” link on our web site to realize that personal service is our strength. A typical testimonial regarding our cremation service follows:
“It's been five months since our Pomeranian, Alexa passed away and was cremated at Thistledown. I feel so fortunate that we found you - we just about used the services that were affiliated with our vet's clinic, however, we decided to bring Alexa home and think about it before making a decision. When considering my options previously, I didn't really think it would matter - what we did afterwards. She'd be gone, so that would be all that mattered, right? Being in the situation, however, we were drawn to your services. An aunt who was also an animal lover had visited you previously and recommended you. I'm so glad we made the decision to come to Thistledown. You answered our call right away and were expecting us when we arrived. Being able to take our time while there made all the difference. Knowing that she'd be cremated the next day and being able to pick her up the day after that also made all the difference rather than knowing that she was sitting in a bag in some freezer somewhere, which is most likely what would've happened if we chose to work with someone else. Being able to bring home Alexa's urn really helped us to start healing and moving forward.
Colin, I remember you mentioning that the part of the job that you wish were different was that you wish you had a chance to meet the pets before they passed away; generally, you only get to meet them after they've died. I mentioned that I'd send you a video montage of Alexa once it had been completed. Well, it's finally done, so I wanted to send it to you so you could see a bit of what Alexa was like when she was alive. Thank you for everything.” (Jenna M., Oshawa, ON)
Many of our clients, including vets and clinic staff, have come to us directly with their personal deceased pets. On numerous other occasions we have had pet owners referred to us by vet clinics to assist in arranging for pet cremations. Such referrals generally have occurred in situations where the normal cremation process offered by the clinic, for whatever reason, was not adequate to meet the needs of their client. When we receive such a referral we can either pick up the pet’s remains at the clinic or can meet the pet owner at his/her residence if
the euthanasia has been performed in the pet’s home environment. In all situations, the pet’s owner has the option of bringing their deceased pet’s remains directly to us, if they are comfortable in doing so.
We are unique at Thistledown Pet Memorial; we have our own on-site pet crematorium. At Thistledown, our clients have the opportunity to be as involved as they wish in the cremation of their pet.
With the exception of not accepting pet remains for burial, we offer a complete pet after-care service. On numerous occasions our clients have remarked that seeing the building where their pet will be cremated, seeing the tranquil nature of the Thistledown property, not having to wait an extended period of time for the return of their pet’s ashes, and meeting the people who will be handling their pet’s remains, brings peace of mind, even during that very difficult time following the loss of their pet. For those pet owners not choosing
cremation, we can provide contact information regarding pet cemeteries located in the southern Ontario area.
At Thistledown, we treat each pet that is entrusted into our care as if it were one of our own. Our pets are special members of our families and they deserve to be treated with dignity and respect; so too do their families.
On-Site Pet Cremation Services
Prior to 2008, we did not have a crematorium at Thistledown but had to rely on the services of an off-site pet crematorium. This situation has since changed and we now have our own on-site crematorium at Thistledown. Consequently, we are now able to offer the timely and personalized cremation service that many pet owners require for their departed animal companion. Realizing that everyone’s needs are very personal and may vary from owner to owner, we offer five different cremation options.
We appreciate that vet bills may be considerable toward the end of a pet’s life. Consequently, we have attempted to keep our cremation prices as affordable as possible. Our cremation prices are competitive with veterinary clinics for those pet owners who wish to have their pet’s ashes returned. For those pet owners who do not wish to have their pet’s ashes returned, they may find it would be more economical to have their pet cremated through their vet clinic.
i) Dedicated Cremation
ii) Attended Private Partitioned Cremation
In an “Attended Private Partitioned Cremation”, the pet owner is permitted to be present and can be as involved as much as he or she wishes during the entire cremation process. As with a “Private Partitioned Cremation”, the remains of a limited number of pets are placed in the crematorium at one time. The pets are well spaced, have small blocks placed between them, and are individually identified on a map of the crematorium chamber. At the conclusion of the cremation, the ashes (cremains) are removed from the crematorium one pet at a time and are then processed individually. The pet’s cremains (ashes) are then returned to the pet’s owner in a satin pouch before he or she leaves Thistledown (we have a large selection of urns available for those pet owners desiring an urn). To enable Thistledown staff to schedule this type of cremation, pet owners are requested to contact Thistledown in advance to make the necessary arrangements.
iii) Private Partitioned Cremation (referred to as an “Individual Cremation” or a “Private Cremation” by some clinics)
In a “Private Partitioned Cremation” at Thistledown, the remains of a limited number of pets are placed in the crematorium at one time. The pets are well spaced, have small blocks placed between them, and are individually identified on a map of the crematorium chamber. At the conclusion of the cremation, the ashes (cremains) are removed from the crematorium one pet at a time and are then processed individually. The pet’s cremains (ashes) are then returned to the pet’s owner in a satin pouch before he or she leaves Thistledown (we have a large selection of urns available for those pet owners desiring an urn). For those pets cremated through veterinary clinics or through private pet after-care services, this procedure may take from one to three weeks (i.e. from date of passing to return of cremains). However, since we have our own on-site pet crematorium at Thistledown, a pet’s cremains (ashes) generally are available for return to the owner within 48 to 72 hours from the time we receive the pet. Our service allows for almost immediate cremation with minimal storage of the pet. We stress the fact that the dignity of the pet is maintained throughout the entire process from receiving the pet to the return of the cremains (ashes) to the pet’s owner.
iv) Communal Cremation (referred to as a “Group or Mass Cremation” by some clinics)
In a “Communal Cremation”, a pet will be cremated along with a number of other pets in a common cremation. With this type of cremation the cremains from all the pets in the crematorium are intermingled at the conclusion of the cremation. No cremains (ashes) are returned to the pet owner. Cremains from Communal Cremations carried out in our crematorium are scattered on the grounds at Thistledown Pet Memorial. Pet owners are not permitted to be present before, during or following this type of cremation.
v) Expedited Cremation Service
Some pet owners wish to have their pet’s cremation completed within 24 hours of contacting Thistledown. To accommodate such requests we offer an “Expedited Cremation Service”. A surcharge would be applied to the cremation option (i.e. Dedicated, Private Partitioned, etc.) selected by the pet owner. This service is available only if the type of cremation selected can be fitted into our schedule of upcoming cremations at the time of the request.