A PET crematorium has become the first in Herefordshire to be awarded a ‘badge of honour’ by an independent inspection scheme.

Barton Hill Pet Crematorium, in Kentchurh, has been approved membership to the Association of Private Pet Cemeteries and Crematoria (APCC) following a series of vigorous workplace assessments.

The APPCC decided to introduce the inspections following a spate of incidents which saw animals being treated in death simply as waste – much to the distress of the owners.

Experienced inspectors examined every aspect of the operation, from the way services are described in marketing literature to how costs and options are explained to pet owners.

As well as being satisfied that the pet crematorium was operating legally and efficiently, a key part of the inspection focused on the care and respect given to an animal – from the moment it arrived at the premises to when it was cremated and its ashes returned to the owner.

Karina Rodgers owner/partner at Barton Hill Pet Crematorium said: “We’re absolutely delighted to have been given this special membership status which I hope will reassure people that we adhere to the highest standards possible in terms of customer care and animal handling practice.

"Being animal lovers ourselves, we realise how important it is to treat everybody's pet with the kindness and love they have received throughout their lives. We see little difference between the loss of a person and an animal in terms of the upset that it causes which is why we always respect and treat them with the utmost care and dignity on their final journey. "Sadly, this doesn’t always happen elsewhere and too often an animal may just be treated as waste to be disposed of, rather than as precious cargo. We know how painful this loss is and have experienced it many times ourselves so we understand how important it is to feel that you have done your best for your pet right to the very end.

"We specialise in private, individual cremation and owners are always offered the chance to attend the cremation. It can be reassuring to watch the process and gives total peace of mind to people worried that their pets may not be cremated alone.

"The onus is also on returning a pets ashes to the owner as quickly as possible as we feel this helps the healing process and the feeling of having them home the same day can be of great comfort. We would like to offer every animal lover the chance to provide their pet with a dignified farewell whilst at the same time giving you total peace of mind."

A spokesman for the APPCC said: “It is essential that the inspections are meaningful if we are to win the confidence of the public. The company carrying out the tests has nothing to do whatsoever with the pet funeral industry and it drafted a new consumer code for participating members.

“This code is fully geared towards protecting the public. Nothing like this has ever been seen before in the pet funeral sector."

For more information visit appcc.org.