“ Pet Crematorium / Address: Wardhead Croft / Balmedie / Aberdeenshire / AB23 8YJ / Scotland / Tel: (01358) 742753 „
***How I found out about the Balmedie Pet Crematorium***
It's not been a good start to 2010. Sadly I had to have my 8 year old cat Elmo put to sleep on Sunday 17th January. It was a very sad day and everything happened so suddenly and unexpectedly. Of course me and my family were devastated at the thought of losing one of the members of our family but we made the right decision - although it was a tough one. I guess if you don't have a pet be it a cat, dog even a budgie or a hamster then you maybe won't be able to empathise or sympathise with me but Elmo was an integral part of my life for the last 8 years and I miss him dearly.
When we got asked the dreaded question by the vet "do you just want me to give him another wee injection" seeing how much my poor little man was suffering my first instinct with tears rolling down my face was to say yes - I didn't want him suffering. Straight away the vet asked us what we wanted to do with our beloved Elmo giving us three options in total
1.Take him home and bury him in a suitable spot in our back garden if we had one
2.Have him cremated privately, in which case we would get some of his ashes back
3.Have him cremated and get nothing back
Elmo was my cat so my mum asked me what I wanted. I couldn't bear the thought of not getting anything back so I asked for a private cremation. The vet was really nice and told us that he would make all of the arrangements and that the pet crematorium would be in touch over the next couple of days to find out exactly what we wanted and with that we said goodbye to Elmo.
***Contact from the crematorium and our options***
Eventually on Wednesday 20th January my step-dad received a phone-call from the crematorium confirming that they had received Elmo and provided some options as to how we wanted to receive the ashes
1.You can have the ashes returned to you in a scatter pouch so you can scatter them in a place of your choice
2.You can have the ashes returned to you in a wooden casket (like a little pet coffin) for you to keep or bury yourself at home.
I didn't want to scatter him so we asked if we could have a wooden casket for the ashes. The great thing about the pet cremation service is that if you get a private cremation it means that you are guaranteed that your pet gets cremated entirely on its own and all of the ashes recovered so you can be sure that it is only your pet that you get back and not little bits of other animals that have been cremated.
We didn't know this at the time but the crematorium will collect your pet either from your home, your veterinary surgery or alternatively you can take your pet to the crematorium personally and have them laid in the chapel of rest where families can say their final goodbyes. Thinking about it, I think we made the right choice in having Elmo collected from our Veterinary surgery because I don't think I could've handled taking him to the crematorium to say good bye there, but people have different opinions about this and sometimes families decide to take their pets home after passing and prefer to make these arrangements themselves.
The crematorium advised us that Elmo would be ready for collection on Thursday evening at 18:45pm. I was really impressed at this as the crematorium takes into account that people work and so provide a service that means you can conveniently collect your pet after normal working hours.
The opening hours are:
Monday - Friday 09:00 - 19:00
Saturday 09:00 - 12:00
Closed on Sundays and Bank Holidays.
***Getting to the crematorium***
The crematorium is located to the North of Aberdeen city and is set in a location that overlooks the north east coastline of Aberdeenshire. To get there I had to travel along the A90 towards Peterhead and take a left into a place called 'Westfield'. Although this is clearly signposted it is very easy to miss the turn off, especially when travelling at 60mph as the turning is off of the single carriageway and no slip road so accidentally I missed my turn off and had to travel further than necessary to get to the crematorium. I quickly about turned at the next village and managed to make the turning on the southbound road on the A90 heading back toward Aberdeen city.
The road that you turn onto is a single track road much like a dirt track so slowly does it along here. About ½ mile along the road there is a sign on the left hand side stating Balmedie pet crematorium. When you get to the crematorium itself there is a converted steading and the crematorium building itself just across from it so I assumed at the time that the family who run the crematorium both live and work there.
The address for the crematorium is:
Balmedie Pet Crematorium
***The crematorium itself***
I was the first one to arrive at the crematorium and one of the owners Steven Black was just saying his goodbyes to another family that had been in to collect their pet, and he gave me a little wave. My intention had been to wait in the car until my mum and step-dad turned up but I thought after receiving the wave that it would be a little impolite for me to stay outside.
Steven was lovely, he invited me into a small reception area and confirmed with me that I was there to collect Elmo then directed me to a small bereavement room where you can find a book of remembrance and wait for the remains to be brought to you. Steven asked me if I wanted to write something in the book of remembrance but I declined and asked if it would be ok to wait for the rest of my family to join me.
As I waited in the bereavement room I had a good look around. There was some art hanging on the walls and some pictures of cats and dogs in a small cabinet in the room (I presumed these were pets that belonged to the owners that had been cremated), and also a box of tissues on the desk next to the book of remembrance. It was this attention to detail that really impressed me about the crematorium. There was also a leaflet which contained information on how to deal with the loss of a pet.
My mum and step-dad were clearly running late and I found myself looking at my watch as it ticked closer to 19:00pm and I heard another family entering the facility to collect their pet. With great respect I heard steven advising the family that he had another family in the bereavement room that was still waiting for a couple of members and asking if they would mind waiting in the seating area at reception. Just as I thought - the owner came into the bereavement room and politely asked if I would mind letting the other family in while I was waiting for mine to turn up to which of course I said I didn't and went out into the waiting area. A couple of minutes later my family turned up and waited patiently to be allowed back in.
Finally, once the 3 of us were in the bereavement room we were given 5 minutes or so to write something about our beloved Elmo into the book of remembrance. It all felt so final writing our short goodbye messages and at this point I found a use for the box of tissues as I had started tearing up, but the atmosphere of the place was comforting. I was glad we had decided to do it this way and even happier that the crematorium was the professional yet comforting place that it was.
We had requested to have Elmo's remains returned to us in the wooden casket that was available. We received a lovely Ash wood box from Steven with 3 small flowers delicately taped onto the top and he sat down and explained a few things about the box itself: we weren't to worry about the lid coming off as the box is securely sealed so there's no chance of ashes being spilt; the box is secured with small screws in the bottom of the casket that can be removed at anytime should we wish to scatter a small amount or all of the ashes; we can bury the box itself in our garden if we wish to but we would have to ensure that it was deep enough into the ground or alternatively we could just keep the box in our home. I personally didn't want to scatter the ashes or bury the box so Elmo now has pride of place on my bedroom window so he can look out (one of his favourite spots) with a picture of him and his collar placed next to the casket.
Using the method of cremation is not cheap. We were just over one hundred and fifty six pounds for our Elmo which was broken down into a cost for the box at twenty five pounds, the cost of collection at twenty five pounds and the cost for the cremation which is charged at a per kilo rate and we were eighty five pounds for this plus vat on top. The charges do vary depending on the size and weight of your animal and the website breaks the cost down as follows:
Over 2-12kgs 75.00
Over 12-24kgs 85.00
Over 24-36kgs 110.00
Over 36-48kgs 125.00
Over 48-60kgs 140.00
Over 60kgs 170.00
Aberdeen City 25.00
Outwith Aberdeen city price on application
Ash wood Caskets 25.00
Remains to scatter - No charge
***My overall opinion***
I left the crematorium sad but satisfied that everything had been done properly. I could not have expected a better service. The owner Steven was sympathetic for our loss and had the highest degree of professionalism regarding the whole process. What impressed me was the time that Steven took to ask us a little bit about Elmo such as how old he was, what kind of character did he have and how ultimately did we lose him.
I felt at ease the whole time I was there and was glad to have someone who obviously cares about these animals and the service the crematorium provides. The location is peaceful and tranquil - a very nice setting for your animal to be laid to rest. I thought the book of remembrance was a very nice touch and was glad I got to write a goodbye message, it just finished everything off nicely. It is a little expensive, but I think it's great that this service is available to pet owners. You get to keep a little something of what is essentially part of your family.