Pet cemetery allegedly gave owners ashes not from their pets

Posted at 3:55 AM, Jul 29, 2017
and last updated 2017-07-29 03:55:53-04

PEKIN, IL (WMBD/CNN) - A pet cemetery and crematory in Illinois is accused of deceiving clients by giving them ashes that might not be from their deceased pets.

Richie Rich is a volunteer with TRAP, Trap and Recover Animals in Peoria. He said that once a domesticated dog is in the wild, it needs water, shelter and food.

"We pulled in to check for paw prints, didn't see anything, we're immediately met with the smell of what we thought at the time was roadkill, so that's when we decided to search around the building,” Rich said. “There was a chest freezer outside, along the side of the building that, the closer we got to it, the strong the smell got."

"There were three animals inside it that had been there for some time. One of those animals had a microchip in the animal. We were able to identify that animal and the owner had received ashes," Chief Deputy Jeffrey Lower said.

The microchipped animal, a cat, was said to have been cremated in 2013 at Katy's Pet Cemetery and Crematory.

The three animals found were only the beginning.

"15 there, 10 more in another freezer and we have 12 of them. We only took possession of those that had the microchip in them and the rest of them there's just no way for us to identify," Lower said.

The oldest animal identified was said to have been cremated in 2001.

"What he was doing, as far as how he was managing was not illegal. As far as the disposal process that he was going through was not illegal,” Lower said.

“He wasn't doing anything wrong there. The only part that was illegal was representing ashes of an animal that was not truly that animal."

"There came a point where doing the right thing didn't feel like doing the right thing even though we knew we were preventing a lot of hurt in the future,” Rich said. “I just hate for those families to have to relive the loss of their animal and question whether they've got their remains of their animal."

In Illinois, pet crematories are not regulated other than when the crematory is installed.

It's important to ask questions and ask for references, both from veterinarians and customers.

Copyright 2017 WMBD via CNN. All rights reserved.