Fears more owners could be victims of pet scam

NRHNLM110202A5 - Derby crown court Emma Bent from heage. Victims of the scam await to hear the sentence
NRHNLM110202A5 - Derby crown court Emma Bent from heage. Victims of the scam await to hear the sentence

cONCERNED pet owners who used the Peak Pet Cremations service in Heage may ‘never know’ whether their beloved animals were part of an animal dumping scandal, according to police.

Emma Bent, owner of the family-run cremation business on High Edge Drive in Heage was sentenced to eight months in prison on Wednesday, February 2.

The mother-of-three used an unlicensed incinerator to cremate the remains of animals from 2005 until the machinery broke down in August 2009.

The court heard how she then dumped the bodies of animals she was charged with cremating in fields at Heage and Lower Hartshay, Ripley. The ashes families received as part of a private cremation service comprised bonfire ash and other partly cremated animal tissue.

Bent also had a contract with veterinary practice Ambivet, which has a surgery in Heanor, to dispose of dead animals.

She invoiced Ambivet for more than £91,000 between November 2006, and August 2009, for the service, and disposed of 2,838 pet carcasses in total, the council said.

Now there are fears many more pet owners could have ashes that are not those of their beloved animals.

Pc Miriam Roche, the officer who investigated the case, said: “This was a particularly complex enquiry and a very emotional one for the pet owners concerned.

“Unfortunately many pet owners will never know if their pets were cremated correctly and as they wished.”

Environmental crime team leader for the East Midlands Environment Agency, Peter Rutherford, conducted an investigation into Bent’s activities in 2009. He was faced with the gruesome task of going through bags of dead animals dumped in a shed Bent kept in a rented field in Heage.

Large amounts of burned animals, including a decomposing badger and a pig, as well as clinical waste, including syringes and bloodied bandages, were discovered there.

Mr Rutherford said: “It is impossible for us to tell whether there are other victims out there. We recognise the stress this has caused to the pet owners.”

Now, as a result of the concerns, a Nottingham pet crematorium has offered to screen the ashes pet owners may have received from Bent for free.

John and Rita Hardbury-Castle have run Nottingham Pet Crematorium at Gamston Bridge for 18 years and have already inspected several examples of the pet ashes sent back to victims by Bent after she charged for the service.

Mr Hardbury-Castle said the difference between ashes from pets cremated at his crematorium and those sent back by Bent was ‘obvious’.

He added that pet ashes should have a silvery white or light grey appearance.

Memorial pages have been set up in tribute to the dogs that were dumped in Lower Hartshay by Bent.

To leave a dedication or tribute go to the website www.dearestpets.com and search for Bournville Allen or Sam Moore.

It is free to enter a tribute or message.