Dignity Shows How It S Done

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Dignity shows how its done
11th September 2017

By Sandra Pearce

A pet crematorium is celebrating 25 years of service, despite vets saying the idea would never catch on.

From dogs and cats to pet swans, chickens, fish, snails, tortoises and even a regimental goat, Dignity Pet Crematorium in Winchfield, Surrey, has ensured a respectful farewell to them all.

In 1992, Barry Spurgeon and his wife Carole decided to follow their gut feeling and start Dignity, reports the Get Surrey local paper. “They did so after watching a documentary that showed how, following their death, family pets were bagged and frozen for up to a week at veterinary practices before being piled into vans like rubbish alongside clinical waste,” said their son, Kevin, who is now a partner in the business.

"They felt there would be other people like them who would want a more respectful send-off than the simple weekly man in a van service and so decided to start Dignity in the grounds of our family home in Winchfield.”

Kevin said at first there were plenty of doubters, including the vets: “Just the other week I spoke to a lady who came to us with her much-loved cat.

“She recounted how, as a Saturday girl at a local vets 25 years ago, some of the staff would make fun of the fact that my father would walk into the practice and carefully lay out the pet he was collecting in a bed before quietly carrying them to his Volvo estate that he had converted into a pet hearse.

“That lady is now a qualified vet who always remembered the respect that was showed by Barry and now follows his example when having to put clients pets to sleep.”

Kevin, who is now the director of the Association of Private Pet Cemeteries and Crematoria, added: “They did their research and visited human crematoria - looking at the things that worked well and bringing in ideas of their own to create a personal pet funeral service.”

Dignity became the first pet crematorium to get planning permission to lay to rest human ashes alongside those of their pets, and today both Barry and Carole’s remains rest there.

Dignity serves Hampshire, Surrey and Berkshire and the surrounding areas and is one of the only independent pet crematoriums left in the south.