New Zealand welcomes first-ever water cremation service for pets

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pet cremation
Veterinary surgeon Dr Heidi Ward-McGrath

Losing a pet is like losing a loved one and now pet owners can take comfort in an innovative new Kiwi business offering New Zealand’s first-ever eco-friendly, gentle alternative to traditional pet cremation.

Wairarapa’s Pet Angel Wings Service (PAWS) is the provider of New Zealand’s first Alkaline Hydrolysis service (also known as water cremation or green cremation), available to cats, dogs, rabbits, birds, guinea pigs and exotics weighing under 100kgs.

PAWS officially launched last month and in addition to water cremation, offers New Zealand’s only holistic, one-stop shop for pet funerals, eco-pet cremation, hospice and afterlife pet care services.

Veterinary surgeon Dr Heidi Ward-McGrath and funeral director and embalmer, Joanne Piper, are the team behind PAWS and together have more than 50 years’ experience in their respective fields.

“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 as it’s 100 per cent environmentally-friendly as opposed to flame cremation which is not,” Dr 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.”

The duo also plan to introduce water cremation training to the wider pet cremation community.

Water cremation is a natural process involving warm water and alkali working together to rapidly break down all tissue (protein), bar the bones. 

Mimicking mother nature, the process works through oxidation—only faster—taking around eight to 10 hours.  

Water cremation does not destroy the bone matter, so once the process is complete, bones are dried, placed into a cremulator and turned into a white granule and powder (ash), which can be scattered, kept in an urn, or used in memorial jewellery and other keepsakes. 

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