I suspect those of you reading this have the same opinion as I do about your pets—they’re part of the family.
So, when it comes time to say goodbye we want them treated with the respect and dignity that we gave them in life. This is despite the fact that we had Mars dress up in a peacock costume for Halloween (but he won the costume contest…twice!).
In many parts of Southern California, it’s illegal to bury an animal. (Los Angeles, for one, prohibits it), so cremation has become increasingly popular. Another reason is that we move around more than previous generations and, as a result, many people want to keep their relatives and pets near them.
A few years back Time Magazine reported that cremation had finally surpassed burial in our country by a 2:1 margin. Of course, it is far less expensive than burying and maintaining a plot. For a lot of us there were other problems with burial: wasting land and fostering guilt on future generations over visiting and maintaining the grave site. Cremation seemed to be the answer.
As with all technologies, some evolve and some don’t.
Automobiles are obviously evolving. Home entertainment went from Betamax to VHS to DVD to streaming. Satellite and Internet radio pushed traditional radio into near obsolescence. Does anyone remember Prodigy? They were one of the first Internet providers and seemingly on the road to enormous success. But, they failed to appreciate and anticipate what their customers valued and began charging separately for all the most popular features (like email). As the on-line business world evolved, they were left in the dust. Prodigy is now just a footnote in the Internet explosion.
Cremation certainly isn’t as complicated a business as Prodigy, but there are several lessons. Clearly, most crematories have failed to appreciate and adapt their business operations to reflect the notion of the “family pet”. Even in my lifetime, our attitude to our furry friends has changed. I can’t imagine our family without them. Our kids couldn’t imagine it either. And while my parents deeply loved their dogs, my family thinks of them as family, not just a dog. There’s an objective way to tell how attitudes have changed as well. The overall pet industry has been growing at a steady clip for years. It was one of the few industries that just kept growing through the last recession. At approximately $70 billion in 2016, which showed 4% growth, it tells us that we are spending money on the same goods and services that we do for humans. A recent study in Britain showed that people spend more money on their pet than their significant other!
Though I’m sure there are some crematories that have adjusted their business practice to reflect the current “personalized preferences” of pet owners, the business in general is still a commodity business. Commodity businesses, by definition, have trouble moving in a personal direction. The other big reason why alternatives to cremation are needed is environmental. Cremation is a polluting technology. There’s no getting around that. And, with two young kids and the prospect of a violently changing climate being left for them, we want to make a difference.
Aquamation is the next step
in the evolution of aftercare for our pets.
Scientifically, Aquamation is called alkaline hydrolysis, a process far more natural than cremation. Aquamation is a reductive process, which mimics nature, while cremation is an oxidative process. When bodies are buried or left out in the elements, it is alkaline hydrolysis that expedites the decomposition. Alkali and microbes in the soil are part of the story. Insects, which use alkaline hydrolysis to process the body’s nutrients, are another part. In fact, food in the human small intestine is also digested to usable nutrients by alkaline hydrolysis. In a true sense, aquamation is an acceleration of nature.
The process also destroys all pathogens. As well, it converts fixatives (such as glutaraldehyde, formaldehyde, phenol etc.), cytotoxic agents (such as chemotherapy drugs) and other toxins to harmless, biodegradable derivatives.They are broadcast into the air or left as residue with cremation. It is a unique and extremely valuable benefit of the process.
It is only in the last 20 years where research and scientific advancements brought it into the mainstream. It is now THE preferred method of tissue disposition in research and medical facilities throughout the world. In the USA, UCLA, Duke University, the Mayo Clinic and Texas A&M are just a few of the institutions that use it. Depending on the institution, it’s being used for both human and animal cadavers.