Our veterinarian has just told us that our pet has a severe illness. What options do we have for aftercare for our beloved pet and family member?

At Homeward Bound, we offer various cremation options for pet aftercare. We are available to assist you in making a decision that will be dignified, respectful and accommodate your needs. We assure you that your very special family member will be handled in a gentle and loving manner.

Some families choose a private cremation. During a private cremation, your pet is by itself in the cremation chamber. A private cremation allows you to witness the cremation process (if desired – please understand that we must schedule a “witnessed cremation”). You can observe as the cremation process is started and then return when it is completed to receive your pet’s cremated remains.

A partitioned cremation service uses a separation cremation method, in which several pets are placed in isolated zones within the cremation chamber. Smaller pets are placed into a metal tray, larger pets have metal dividers placed around them. Every animal is identified using our Paws-e-Track system, which assigns a number to each pet. The partitioned method of cremation provides a more economical alternative, while still providing pet owners with their own pet’s cremains. This procedure also minimizes overall “greenhouse gas” emissions and the environmental impact with a shorter equipment operation time.

In order to provide a dignified alternative at a very modest cost, we offer a communal cremation. This option provides for joint cremation of your pet with a number of other pets. Remains from individual pets are not returned to the owners following cremation, but are scattered on a private ranch. Cremated remains are never disposed of in a landfill.

How do I know that the pet returned to me is actually my pet?

In order to ensure that your pet is treated with the utmost care, we utilize our Paws-e-Track System. Each and every pet is issued a cremation number at the time it is entered into our system, whether at a veterinary facility or here at Homeward Bound. Strict quality controls are followed throughout the entire process. A cremation certificate with the same ID number will accompany the urn at the time it is returned to you.

How long does the cremation process take, and when will I receive my pet’s remains?

Homeward Bound Pet Memorial Center makes every effort to pick up your pet from your local veterinary hospital on the same day as requested. We also try our best to ensure your pet is cremated within 24 hours of arrival at our facility. Homeward Bound will return your pet’s cremated remains to your veterinarian’s office within 2-4 business days, with delays only when a special order urn is requested or for weather difficulties. If a pet is brought directly to our facility, we will generally have the cremated remains completed and ready to return to the family within 48-72 hours.

In what type of container will my pet’s remains be returned?

Pet owners have a wide choice of urns, many of which we have in stock, while others are available as a special order. A basic, plastic urn is included, or you may select from a large variety ready for immediate selection. Urns usually available immediately include carved wood, ceramic, cedar, or brass permanent urns. We also offer temporary urns, including water burial urns, biodegradable paper and scattering urns. Local veterinarians who use Homeward Bound for pet aftercare have catalogs showing our urn options, or an owner may visit our facility to choose a special urn. The family may also opt to provide their own urn.

Can I make arrangements for my pet’s aftercare before we need the service?

Absolutely. We welcome pet owners who wish to visit our facility prior to their pet’s passing. It can be much easier to establish these plans before the actual need, as the grief from your loss may make these decisions more difficult.

What if my pet dies at home or when my veterinarian is closed? Can I bring my pet to Homeward Bound myself? Will you pick up my pet at home?

Many families wish to keep their pet at home for a short period of time following the death, especially if it occurred during the night. Other family members (both human and pets) may want to have some time to say goodbye. This is normal, and is a healthy part of the grieving process.

Once a pet has passed, it may lose some bodily fluids. It is advisable to protect the area your pet is on by placing a plastic pad or a few towels under your pet. You will want to keep your pet cool, such as in an air-conditioned space or on a cool concrete floor, especially during warm weather.

When your family is ready, you may bring your pet to us. We are proud of our facility and the services we provide and maintain a 100% open door policy. Due to the sensitive nature of making decisions surrounding the passing of your best friend, we prefer to serve only one family at a time to give everyone our undivided attention and to give you and your family the privacy you want. We do not require appointments during regular business hours, so please understand if we are busy with another family when you come in. Homeward Bound also offers home pick-up, from 8 am to 8 pm, seven days a week. During regular business hours, you may speak to one of our Pet Aftercare Specialists. If you get our voicemail, please leave a message, and we will return your call as soon as we are able.

If I have a horse or large farm pet that has passed on, can Homeward Bound provide services for my farm animals?

Yes. Homeward Bound has cremation equipment that can accommodate a full-sized horse (intact, whole body cremation). We have also provided services for pot-bellied pigs, large snakes, llamas and alpacas, big cats, miniature horses, deer and other wildlife, and goats. We work with a transportation service in the local area when transporting animals too large for our vehicles.

Are we allowed to include a blanket or some toys with our pet during the cremation process?

Of course. A small lightweight blanket or a small toy can accompany a pet during the cremation.

Does Homeward Bound provide euthanasia?

In our memorial center, we have special comfort rooms which are available to local veterinarians and pet-parents for on-site euthanasia of pets. You may contact your regular veterinarian, or we will make the arrangements for you with one of the in-home euthanasia specialists in our area. You may also check our Premier Veterinary Partners page to locate a veterinarian who will come to your home for euthanasia.

After the loss of our pet, we opted for a communal cremation. However, a few days later, we changed our mind. Is it possible to have our pet cremated on a partitioned basis now?

If you contact us soon enough, usually within 24-48 hours, we may still be able to make changes to your aftercare directives. After that time, however, it is likely the communal cremation will have already taken place. Unfortunately, after multiple pets have been cremated communally, it is not possible to identify one animal from another once the cremation is complete.

What if my veterinarian doesn’t use Homeward Bound Pet Memorial Center for pet aftercare services?

You should always ask your pet’s health care provider who they choose for cremation services. If they do not use Homeward Bound (check our listing of our Premier Veterinary Partners), simply let them know you have chosen Homeward Bound for your pet’s aftercare needs. You may call us or ask your veterinarian to call us. We will pick up your pet at your veterinarian’s office or at any of the emergency or specialty centers and transport your pet to our Memorial Center. We will call you to let you know we have your beloved pet in our care, and you may come to our Center to complete the arrangements. We may also be able to take care of everything over the phone.

What forms of payment do you accept?

We accept cash, checks, Visa, MasterCard, Discover, American Express and Diner’s Club cards for services and products payment. We do not accept Care Credit, but you may be able to use Care Credit by arranging services through your veterinarian. Payment must be made prior to the services being performed.