Dead pets society: Animal crematorium returned random ashes to bereaved owners

© Alexandr Vilf
A pet crematorium owner has been found guilty of deceiving customers by taking their beloved pets and returning the ashes of random animals.

The deception by Allan McMasters, owner of the Swan Pit Pet Crematorium in Staffordshire, was exposed when trading standard officers discovered freezers stocked with frozen dead pets, a court heard Thursday.

Trading standards staff found the frozen remains of a dragon-bearded iguana, a chicken, four cats and seven dogs.

McMasters has been ordered to pay £6,435 in compensation, including £500 to each of his known victims. Though the trading standards officers told the court the full extent of his deception may never be known.

He must also carry out 200 hours of community service as part of his 12-month community order.

“It’s horrible and far from what your customers would have expected you to have done,” District Judge Jack McGarva said.

When they visited the crematorium in November 2014, staff from Staffordshire County Council found cement bags and bin bags full of indiscriminate ashes on the premises.

McMasters pleaded guilty to five charges of fraud, and four charges of failing to comply with animal by-product regulations relating to the way the horse carcasses were kept.

Defending lawyer Paul Jenkins said the owner had had “difficulties” keeping track of the animals.

“For a one-man band, it’s easy to see where the difficulties were going to lie, particularly with smaller animals, and it was that side of the business that went by the board.”

But McGarva called McMasters’ actions an “abuse of trust.”

“You cannot put a price on the distress they have suffered. This was about an abuse of trust, not what you were paid. Pets can be very dear to people, they form close relationships over a long period of time.

“Those owners trusted you to deal with their pets in a very distressing situation in a manner that would respect the dignity of their pets. You completely failed in this.

“You continued to take animals in, knowing full well you couldn’t deliver what you promised.”

Joanne Wakeley, whose dog’s remains were found in one of the freezers, said: “He didn’t get what he deserved.

“Now I’m wondering about all the other animals I’ve had cremated with him over the years – it’s heart-wrenching to think they are not the real ashes either.”