Our Process

What Happens to Your Pet’s Body

Although the process is slightly different depending on where we take custody of your pet’s body (your home, a veterinary clinic or shelter or our facility), here is the basic procedure using transport of your pet from a veterinary clinic as an example:

  • A vet staff member selects a numbered ID tag for your pet. Your pet’s ID number is noted on the Authorization for Pet Cremation.
  • The vet staff member gives you a copy of our Services & Pricing.
  • You complete, sign, and initial the Authorization for Pet Cremation.
  • Optional: If you do not wish to be contacted by Radiant Heart later in the day, and you are absolutely certain about the services you want to order, please provide payment information before leaving the clinic.
  • Your pet’s body is encased in a PVC-free pet cadaver bag. (PVC = polyvinyl chloride.) The cadaver bag is knotted and the zip tie that is threaded through your pet’s steel ID tag is attached to the bag.
  • A vet staff member calls Radiant Heart to let us know that your pet is ready for pick up.
  • When we pick up your pet’s body, our staff wrap or cover your pet’s body with a soft blanket for additional discretion. The body is then respectfully carried (or transported via a Ferno Mini-Cot) to our vehicle where it is placed in a customized area that keeps it secure and prevents movement.
  • Your pet’s body is then driven to our facility. It is carefully taken out of the vehicle and weighed. (We are required to maintain an accurate record of each pet’s weight for NW Clean Air.)
  • If we will not be working with your pet’s body immediately, he/she may be transferred to our Cool Room (a special insulated room that stays at 40 degrees Fahrenheit).
  • Radiant Heart representative will call you to confirm your order, however there is no rush. You can take up to several days to make a decision about the type of cremation you would like for your pet and if you would like any additional services or memorials.
  • (For any order that includes a clay paw print…) First we select a front paw (typically the right paw) and then thoroughly clean and dry it. The Sculpey Original Clay is prepared. Once we have a good impression, your pet’s name is pressed into the clay and holes are cut for the ribbon. The clay paw print is then baked in a convection oven dedicated for this purpose. Once cooled, the hard clay is both machine- and hand-sanded, and a ribbon is attached before it is wrapped in tissue paper for your pet’s After-Care Package.
  • (For any order that includes an ink paw print…) Typically using the same (already clean) paw used for the clay print, we trim the nails and shave the fur from between the pads using a professional pet grooming tool. The ink print is then made by placing your pet’s paw on an ink pad (or painting ink on the paw) and then pressing the inked paw onto a small sheet of paper that is attached to a small flat piece of wood covered with a thin sheet of silicone. Typically we make 5-30 impressions. Once we have a good print, the paper is marked with your pet’s name and ID number. The print is then scanned and saved as a digital file. The scan of the print is cleaned-up using graphic software. A copy is printed for your pet’s After-Care Package. The original ink print and digital file are saved.
  • (For any order that includes a fur clipping…) We identify one or more spots on your pet’s body that would work well for a fur clipping (typically the back of the neck). We brush the fur and then with scissors or a grooming tool carefully cut the fur. The fur clippings are carefully placed into a paper mache heart-shaped box. A ribbon is glued and tied to the top of the box.  This box is then included in your pet’s After-Care Package.
  • When we are ready to cremate your pet’s body, it is carefully placed into the crematorium.

    We offer two types of on-site cremation: 1) eco-friendly water cremation (aquamation) and 2) traditional flame cremation.

    Cremation is the process of reducing a body to bone. Through alkaline hydrolysis (aquamation) or by exposing it to a strong flame and intense heat (traditional flame cremation), the body is reduced to its basic mineral form. Although the remains are commonly called “ashes” they are actually cremated remains composed primarily of bone fragments.

    Our PET550 aquamation machine uses alkaline hydrolysis to covert animal remains and microbial tissues into a sterile aqueous solution suitable for disposal into a sanitary sewer. For alkali, Radiant Heart uses a combination of dry Potassium Hydroxide (KOH) and Sodium Hydroxide (NaOH). The aquamation process takes 20 hours. (For a more detailed explanation please see Explanation of Hydrolysis Process.) When the aquamation process is complete, the basket holding your pet’s bones is carefully removed from the crematorium, and then your pet’s bones and ID tag are carefully collected and placed onto a drying screen. The screen is inserted into a tall drying rack inside our Cool Room where a combination of dehydrators and fans  dry the bones.

    The primary chamber of our Therm-Tec flame crematorium heats up to between 900 and 1700 degrees Fahrenheit, converting your pet’s body, except the bones, into a gas state. This gas is then moved through a secondary chamber (the control stack) with an internal temperature of at least 1650 degrees Fahrenheit. Heat vapor and CO2 are released into the atmosphere — never smoke or any smell. Depending on the size of your pet, the flame cremation process can take 1 to 4 hours. When the cremation process is complete and the crematorium is cool, your pet’s cremated remains are carefully removed from the crematorium using special brushes and other tools. The pet ID tag must be located in the cremated remains before moving to the next step.

    Next steps for both types of cremation:

  • Your pet’s cremated remains are carefully placed into a processor where the remains are ground to the consistency of powdery sand.
  • Your pet’s cremated remains are then removed from the processor. If you have selected a bio-degradable urn, the cremated remains are placed directly into a muslin bag which then goes into the paper mache bio-urn along with your pet’s ID tag. Otherwise, your pet’s cremated remains are placed into a clear plastic/nylon bag which is sealed with a zip tie that has been threaded through your pet’s ID tag. The bag is then placed into the urn.
  • Your pet’s After-Care Package is assembled.
  • We contact you to let you know that your pet’s After-Care Package is available for pick up.
  • You pick up your pet’s After-Care Package from our facility. Upon request, we will deliver your pet’s After-Care Package to your veterinary clinic.

Please see Communal Cremation for information on how we handle communal remains.