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Water way to go: A new farewell

Dr Heidi Ward-McGrath veterinary director at Vetcare. PHOTOS/SUE TEODORO

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A Masterton vet and a funeral director have set up New Zealand’s first-ever water cremation option for pets as part of a gentle end-to-end bereavement service to help people farewell their “fur-babies”.

Pet Angel Wings Service [PAWS], is the brainchild of vet Dr Heidi Ward-McGrath and funeral director and embalmer Joanne Piper who have a combined experience of more than 50 years in their respective fields.

A pet coffin made from sustainable materials.

The new cremation service is provided on-site at Ward-McGrath’s Vetcare practice in Chapel St.

New Zealand’s first Alkaline Hydrolysis service, also known as water cremation or green cremation, was officially launched by PAWS last month as part of the holistic, one-stop shop for pet funerals, eco-pet cremation, hospice and afterlife pet care.

“We also have a fully qualified grief counsellor because losing a pet is a very big event in people’s lives. We want to give people the best support available. We want to wrap our love and support around them. Many older people do not have families in Masterton and so we do home visits, and we will drop the ashes back to them,” Ward-McGrath said.

“It’s a beautiful, respectful, very dignified service for the pet.”

The eco-friendly alternative to traditional pet cremation, already used in the US, is an overnight process.

Water cremation does not destroy bone, so once complete, they are dried, put in a cremulator and turned into white granule and powder.

Pet owners have a range of options for the remains.

Burial in a range of eco-friendly caskets is offered.

Jewellery with space for pet ashes.

They can also be scattered, kept in an urn or even kept in reasonably priced memorial jewellery.

Ward-McGrath has been offering palliative care, pet euthanasia and cremation services since 1999 and said the new technology could revolutionise New Zealand’s pet cremation industry.

“This type of service is fast becoming the preferred end-of-life choice for pet owners in the United States, Canada, Australia and the United Kingdom because it’s 100 per cent environmentally friendly as opposed to flame cremation which is not,” Ward-McGrath said.

“Pet owners are wanting to minimise their global footprint and are also wanting the most natural, serene method of afterlife care for their beloved pets.”

She said water cremation was the future for the industry.

PAWS offers water cremation to cats, dogs, rabbits, birds, guinea pigs and exotics weighing under 100kg.

  • More information about PAWS is at www.petangelwings.co.nz.

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