Some pet cremation companies have suggested the company which had allegedly returned 'fake' ashes to pet owners is a "black sheep" in the industry, with one company calling for greater regulatory oversight from the authorities.
Express Pet Cremation has been in the spotlight after Channel NewsAsia reported it had returned 'fake' ashes to pet owners who had used the company's services. A police report has been made against the company for allegedly returning compounds likened to sand and cement to a pet owner who had engaged its services to cremate his dog. The company's owner, Mr Patrick Lim, has denied the allegations.
The Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) had said the company is not on the list of approved pet cremation service providers on pet farm land or veterinary clinics.
One of the approved companies, Mobile Pet Cremation Services, said the recent incident is "not representative" of the industry.
"It's only one black sheep that is causing so many problems. In every trade, there is sure to have some who 'spoil' the market," said Mr Alvin Seah, the company's spokesperson, who added that since the news was reported, he has received more than five phone calls from concerned pet owners.
"It's regarding the ashes – they called to ask if we are related to the company and are we having the same practice as them," Mr Seah said.
According to the AVA, there are currently four approved pet cremation service providers on pet farm land or veterinary clinics: The Pet Hotel; Mobile Pet Cremation Services, which is owned by Mr Thierry Lim Thian Seng; Mount Pleasant Veterinary Centre; and Mutts and Mittens which is the parent company of Tengoku Pet Cremation.
While there are currently checks put in place by the Government such as applying to AVA to use their farm land for cremation purposes, a spokesperson from Tengoku Pet Cremation is calling for more regulation for the industry and greater scrutiny from the authorities.
"Currently, approved operators are doing it properly but it doesn't deter non-regulated players from doing all kinds of illegal things," the spokesperson told Channel NewsAsia.
MORE POLICE REPORTS LODGED
Channel NewsAsia understands that about 60 pet owners have expressed concerns after news broke that the company had been returning 'fake' ashes to pet owners. Among them is Ms Zann Ho, who made a police report on Aug 3 after prying open her dog's urn.
"It's very shocking. I paid a sum of money for them to cremate my dogs. When I realised the ashes are in powdery form, I'm very disappointed and very sad," said the 29-year-old. "I intend to send the ashes for a forensic test," she added.
Another pet owner, Mr Bernard Khoo, also lodged a police report after finding a bag with a white powdery substance in his dog's urn. "It wasn't what I expected. It turned to be like sand and cement which I felt a bit cheated and I don't think that is right. This is cheating," he said.
The Consumers Association of Singapore (CASE) told Channel NewsAsia in an email that it has not received any complaints against Express Pet Cremation in the past five year. It also advised consumers to always ask for the company’s procedure and policies in pet disposal and may consider asking for a private, individual cremation where they can witness the actual cremation taking place.
The AVA had earlier said it is looking into Express Pet Cremation, which is not in the list of approved pet cremation service providers on pet farm land or veterinary clinics.
Police investigations are also ongoing.