Frequently Asked Questions About Cremation
Our compassionate care for your pet does not end once you have said goodbye. We know that trusting a pet cremation company is a leap of faith for most pet families. We want to answer the most commonly asked questions regarding our pet cremation services. If you have any additional questions, we would be happy to answer those as well.
How can I be sure my pet is being returned to me?
This is every family’s biggest fear when choosing the type of after-care their pet receives and the company who will provide it. At Hampton Roads Veterinary Hospice, we chose to begin offering our water-based cremation services to help alleviate this fear. Our doctors care for your pet during it’s end of life journey and that compassionate care does not stop once you have said goodbye.
After you have finished your final goodbyes, one of our doctors or Aftercare Coordinators will transport your pet back to our Hospice Center. Once they arrive, your pet is given a custom-engraved stainless steel name tag. We have chosen to use engraved name tags as your beloved pet is more than just an identification number to us. This name tag will stay with your pet throughout their stay with us and will be checked at each step in the cremation process and can be found inside their urn with their ashes. Each pet is assigned an individual compartment inside the water-based cremation machine, which is drawn onto our tracking board so we can identify where each pet is during the entire process. We also provide an official certificate of cremation with your pet’s name, date of cremation, and the signature of the Aftercare Coordinator who took care of your pet during their stay.
Will my pet be placed in a plastic bag or freezer?
We do not place pets into freezers or routinely use body bags. We have a custom designed cool room where we are able to keep pets temporarily until the cremation process begins. We also offer temporary body storage services if a family needs time for additional family members to view the body, needs time to prepare for a home burial, or simply needs time to decide what the best after-care option is for their pet. We do not utilize cadaver bags if at all possible. Very rarely if a pet has an excessive amount of discharge, we might use a half covering for the lower half of their body so that we can keep their bedding and the cool room dry and clean for all pets. Small pets are transported in baskets and larger pets on stretchers, both wrapped lovingly in blankets.
When will my pet be returned to me?
As soon as your pet is ready to be returned to you, one of our aftercare coordinators will call to set up an appointment time to bring them home to you. This usually occurs within 1- 2 weeks of receiving your pet into our care. Custom urns and other personalized items that are ordered specifically for your pet may extend the time it takes to return them to you, but we will try to make you aware of the time frame when we discuss the custom order. Keep in mind that our water-based cremation system is a more gentle and slower process than fire-based cremation and does necessitate 3-4 days of drying time so our window may be a little bit longer than with other cremation companies.
How are your services different from other pet cremation companies?
We strive to provide the most compassionate and respectful care of your pet once you have said goodbye. We have designed our entire process with this level of professional care for your family members in mind.
- We do not utilize freezers. If body storage is needed or if there is a small wait time before a pet can be cremated, we have a customized cool room to keep your pets protected and in their beds.
- We use custom engraved name tags instead of standard numbered identification tags because we feel your pet is more than just a number.
- We only use cadaver wraps if absolutely necessary to maintain the cleanliness of our facility for all pets in our care. Small pets are transported in baskets and larger pets on stretchers, both wrapped lovingly in blankets.
- We are a locally owned small business. Your pet will only travel as far as our Hospice Center in Virginia Beach and we will pick up your pet from your home and deliver him/her back home to you at no additional charge.
- We do not incinerate medical waste at the same facility as your beloved pet.
Can I visit with my pet prior to cremation?
You may arrange to visit your pet prior to cremation. This can be especially helpful for closure if certain family members were not present at the time of death and would like to say a final goodbye to their friend. Please keep in mind that unless our aftercare coordinators are made aware of a special request, cremation usually occurs within a few hours of your pet’s arrival at the Hospice Center.
What happens to pets after a communal cremation?
The ashes of pets cremated together in a communal or group cremation are then taken and scattered in various areas around the region. We try to select a beautiful natural location and, with permission of the property owner, scatter their ashes in a small ceremony.
Can I witness the cremation?
Since the water based cremation process is a 20 hour cycle, it is not practical to witness the entire cremation. However, if you would like to witness you pet being placed into the cremation machine, we can coordinate this with our aftercare coordinators. The machine is typically loaded between 9am-10am each morning so that the cycle can be completed before the following day. Please keep in mind that we are generally working to return your pet as well as other pets to their families so you may witness portions of the cremation process that are unsettling to some people.
What will my pet's ashes look like?
After any cremation process, the bone material is processed to create the fine ash that is typically thought of when we say “ashes.” Because the water based cremation process does not involve a flame, the ashes are usually a light gray or light sage color versus the darker gray or black color associated with flame based cremation. While we process the bones to the very best of our ability, it is always possible that you could see small bone fragments and/or teeth mixed in with the ash material. You will also receive any TPLO plates, bone screws, etc that your pet acquired during surgery returned to you in a small container separate from their ashes.
Do you destroy medical waste from veterinary hospitals and is that trash transported with pets?
No. Some pet cremation facilities do offer incineration of sharps and other medial waste from veterinary hospitals in their cremation machines, however, this is not possible with our water-based system. You can rest easy knowing that your pet it being treated with the utmost respect throughout the process.
Can I see where my pet will be cremated?
Absolutely. We would be happy to show you the pet cremation area in our Hospice Center and explain the process to you. Because our Hospice Center is only open by appointment, we ask that you set up an appointment time with our cremation care coordinators to be sure the building is unlocked and someone is there to show you around. Please keep in mind that we are generally working to return other pets to their families so you may witness portions of the cremation process that are unsettling to some people.