A crematorium owner who duped families into thinking he had given them the ashes of their dead pets, only for the animals to be later found in freezers, has been sentenced today.
Allan McMasters, 52, owner of Swan Pit Crematorium in Gnosall, Staffordshire, charged owners for the cremation of their pets and returned their ashes to them.
After a tip off that animals were not being cremated, Staffordshire County Council’s Trading Standards Animal Health visited the property with a search warrant.
What they found, in the words of District Judge Jack McGarva, was ‘something out of a horror movie.’
Ellie, owned by Elizabeth Clewes from Telford, one of the dogs found in the freezer
Large chest freezers contained dogs, cats and in one case an iguana. Some had been stored for months, even though their ashes had supposedly been returned to their owners.
The bodies of horses were also seen lying in the ground of the crematorium, and bags of ashes and clinical waste due for incineration were piled up in outbuildings.
McMasters had previously pleaded guilty to fraud and animal by-product offences and was been sentenced to 200 hours community service. He was also order to costs and compensation of nearly £6,400, £2000 of which will go to some of his victims.
Joanne Wakeley from Cannock was told her family Staffordshire Bull Terrier Ebony had been cremated and given the ashes.
After an initial media release on the case, she contacted Animal Health having concerns about her dog that had recently been taken for cremation to Swan Pit and discovered that Ebony had been found in a freezer, wrapped in the blanket she had taken her in.
“We have used Swan Pit for all of our animals over the last 10 years, so when Ebony died we knew what we wanted to happen. We took her to Swan Pit where we were told she had been cremated, and we were handed what we thought were her ashes the next day.
“To find out that the ashes we had were not Ebony’s, and even worse to be told she had been found in a freezer months later, was heart-breaking. To think she was treated like that, even in death, is disgusting.”