Team 10: Woman says pet ashes gone forever

Posted at 7:49 AM, Jun 30, 2016
and last updated 2016-06-30 23:14:51-04
SAN DIEGO – Kiara Jones wanted to honor her beloved dog’s life by keeping the ashes, but an error occurred in the preparation of the cremation tag of her dog.

“I have no closure, that was my everything,” said Jones.

Jones tells Team 10 she and Abbey were inseparable for 15 years. She says in April, Abbey died in her arms.

Jones says she wanted Abbey cremated so she could keep her ashes nearby forever.

She took her to VCA California Oaks Animal Hospital and requested an individual cremation.

"They told me they would be in contact with me in a couple weeks,” Jones said. “Two weeks went by and I didn't hear anything, so I stopped by there."

No ashes yet, but maybe later. After a month Jones says she called the animal hospital.

"The manager got on the phone and my heart just dropped,” Jones said. “I knew then something was wrong. She said 'Kiara, we don't have your dogs ashes.'"

A VCA spokesperson tells Team 10:

“An error occurred in the preparation of the cremation tag for Abbey. The tag mistakenly designated a communal cremation, rather than the individual cremation Ms. Jones requested. In a communal cremation, multiple pets are cremated together and remains are not returned to owners. In the history of VCA California Oaks Animal Hospital, nothing like this has ever occurred and all the VCA staff are truly devastated.”

Change in Procedure

Jones' heartache is changing procedure at VCA California Oaks Animal Hospital.

The VCA tells Team 10 that to ensure that this never happens again, a new procedure was immediately implemented which now requires pet parents to review and sign off on cremation tags to verify the correct type of service is noted.

They say VCA California Oaks has instituted this new protocol and will discuss this within the region to consider making this a regional policy.

Pet Parents Have Choices

On its website, the International Association of Pet Cemeteries and Crematories says pet owners should understand their options in order to make a quality decision. They say planning in advance for pets just makes sense.

“Cremation can be a very logical choice.  It affords you several options including returning the pets remains “home” via an urn or temporary container, or scattering the cremains at home or a favorite place. Cremation can be a very viable option also if your zoning restrictions do not allow you to bury your pet at home or if the animal is large and burial is prohibitive. It also alleviates any health concerns which can accompany buried pets remains being disturbed. There are questions to ask when considering cremation.  Your veterinarian may have a service which handles this for you but do they offer individual cremation and if so, how do they provide tracking of your pet to ensure accuracy?  It will be important to you as a pet owner to know that some crematories perform mass cremations and this is not acceptable to most.  Many pet owners prefer to use a pet crematory who comes to the veterinarian’s office to pickup the pet and provides a careful and thoughtful individual service.”

More information can be found here.