By Joyce Reid

When faced with the question, not entirely unknown in the farming world, of how to generate an income from a dilapidated building, Euan and Christine Sturrock came up with a fairly novel idea. Something many of us may well need in the future, but which very few of us want to consider.

They have turned what was once a piggery, on the farm that has been in Euan's family for almost 100 years, into Tayside's first pet crematorium. Now that Redford Pet Crematorium, near Arbroath, is open, those wanting a pet cremation no longer have to face a journey to Inverurie or Falkirk.

The new business has started at a propitious time. At its 25th anniversary celebration in November of last year, the Association of Private Pet Cemeteries and Crematoria (APPCC) announced compulsory, independent inspections were to be introduced for all its members in what has been described as the biggest ever development in the pet funeral world.

The association currently has two other members in Scotland and was delighted to welcome Redford into its fold. A spokesperson said: "Euan and Chris deserve recognition for their excellent facilities."

Euan, in turn, has praised the association for all the help and training he has received from them. "It has taken us two years to get to this stage," he said. "Everybody has been more than positive. We will be bringing the personal touch, which is just not there at high volume crematoria, to make the situation easier for our clients."

Most people have probably never thought about exactly what will happen when the inevitable occurs and their pet dies naturally, or has to be put to sleep.

Euan and Christine invite pet owners to come to visit their facilities long before they are actually needed. There they will find a quiet, private space to spend time alone with their beloved pet where they can reflect on times spent together before saying a final goodbye.

The original farm cottage, which had been unused for several years, has been refurbished to provide a comfortable reception area and a quiet farewell room. The couple have achieved their aim of creating a welcoming atmosphere where clients will feel immediately at home and comfortable during a very difficult time.

The couple stress that their price list shows the full cost of cremation and there will never be any additional or hidden costs in their service. The cost varies depending on the size of the pet and how you would like to receive the ashes. There is a choice of a wooden casket or a scatter tube, or you may choose to have some other memorial, such as an urn, a candle holder, jewellery, memorial beads, or a photographic keepsake.

Redford Crematorium carried out its first pet cremation within a fortnight of opening. This is in keeping with national trends according to APPCC director Kevin Spurgeon.

He said: "Today more and more people expect the same standards for their pets as in the funeral world."

He said that it is becoming more common for people to ask for their ashes to be buried along with those of their pets in gardens of remembrance at cemeteries run by members of the Association.

The association's chairman, Nick Ricketts, believes that their work has never been so critical, given the 'corporatisation' of the veterinary world over the past five years. Small private clinics are being bought by national companies which often keep the old name of the surgery. Some of these large vet groups are doing high volume, low-cost deals with crematoria chains to offer a very basic level of service. He believes many people would be shocked to learn that the pet funeral industry is still only regulated from the perspective of waste disposal legislation.

He said: "That's fine if people know would is happening, but often they don't."

He believes transparency is fundamental.

He said: "We need to re-build relationships with vets by holding open days and stressing to them the ethics of the APPCC, its code of practice and its independent inspections. Vets should fully describe what will happen in the cremation process and advise on the alternatives so pet owners can make an informed decision."

All association members are committed to ensuring that every stage of the burial or cremation process is carried out in a dignified, caring and respectful manner. If clients choose a communal cremation, the ashes should be buried or scattered in authorised memorial gardens or natural areas and the clients must be made aware of – and be able to visit – their pet's final resting place.

When carrying out an individual cremation, clients can be sure that their pet will be cremated alone within an enclosed chamber with all ashes being scrupulously collected prior to any other cremations taking place.

Euan and Christine certainly adhere to these standards. As owners of Newfoundland dogs, they know how much pets become part of a family. Euan said: "Knowing the grief on losing a pet we want to help people when they have to say a final goodbye."