A year after dropping her cat off at Toronto Animal Services to be cremated — and going home with a box of ashes — a Toronto woman was shocked to hear her pet’s body had been found in a freezer. “I left him in his little basket with his toys,” Karen Miller said of the day she dropped off Ryland, who died of a heart condition at age seven. After a wait of several weeks last June, she was told she could come and get Ryland’s ashes.
“I brought the box of ashes I thought were his home,” said Miller, who has one other cat and fosters two. Earlier this month, Miller said Animal Services called her to say that they had found Ryland’s body at the bottom of a freezer. They were able to identify the orange tabby because he was still in his bed with his toys, she said. “So whose ashes do I have and does that family want them back?” she remembered asking. “I was quite upset. I was crying . . . this isn’t acceptable.”
Animal Services could not tell her where the ashes she had been given came from, she said, but told her they did not belong to another family. “Then I thought ‘OK wait a second, you just reached in a general pile, scooped up some remains from a general cremation of raccoons and squirrels, put them in a box, cashed my cheque and let me cry?’” said Miller, who paid $80 for the cremation service. “Clearly that’s not right.”
Animal Services would not comment on how this mix-up could have happened, saying an investigation into the matter is ongoing. But the organization no longer performs public cremations.
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