GRIEVING animal lovers visiting the graves of their much-loved pets could soon be placing flowers next to a toilet block as a crematorium gets transformed into a campsite loo.
Owners of the Whitley Brook pet crematorium at Lady Heyes, Kingsley, have applied to make a half-a-million pound move to a larger premises in Astmoor, Runcorn after booming business and the popularity of the neighbouring caravan site forced them to reconsider the suitability of the site.
And, if the move gets given the green light, the precious ashes of hundreds of much-loved pets - alongside the remains of popular TV canines, exotic zoo animals and Grand National horses – will be left behind as the incinerator is turned into a toilet block for a popular family campsite.
Owner of the crematorium, Lady Heyes craft centre and the popular adjoining caravan site, Tony Faulkner, said the North West’s only pet and equine crematorium had become a ‘victim of its own success’.
The growing popularity of the caravan site meant holidaying families were playing near grieving animal lovers who had just scattered the ashes of their family pets.
Mr Faulkner, who founded the business 13 years ago after the death of a beloved family pet, said the move could happen as early as this year in a bid to improve facilities for grieving families and expand the site which had seen a growth in business of more than 30% last year alone.
“The crematorium is at a great spot but it is right next to the caravan site, which isn’t ideal,” said Mr Faulkner, who said the site had become the biggest pet crematorium in the North of England.
“We want to give a professional and discreet service, so it’s not ideal having it somewhere where people are having their holidays.”
Just last year the site saw the cremation of a Great Dane who played popular dog Schmeichel in Coronation Street.
Since it was opened in 1999 cremations have been held there by grieving pet owners on a weekly basis.
“It’s hard to believe that a project that I started following the sudden death of a family pet has led to what we have today,” said Mr Faulkner, who said Chester Zoo have also used the service to dispose of the bodies of exotic animals.
“Our reputation is such that our facilities are used by a growing number of vets across the whole of the North of England. Today we handle pets of all types and all sizes.
“In fact we handle a number of horse cremations every week and are even called upon by zoos to organise the disposal of a variety of animals.”
Mr Faulkner said the popular Memorial Gazebo and the Garden of Remembrance, which stand in the grounds of the crematorium at Whitley Brook, will be preserved if and when the move goes ahead.
“Of course we’ll also build a new Garden of Remembrance for grieving pet owners at the new site,” he added.