The Association of Private Pet Cemeteries and Crematoria (APPCC) has issued a stark warning to horse owners after a fraudulent pet cremation provider was given an eight month suspended sentence and a £53,000 fine for duping horse owners.
Philip ‘John’ Cooper, 70, of West Lydbrook, Somerset, who previously traded under John Cooper Livestock Services, was dealt with for a second time at Gloucester Crown Court for fraud, with charges relating to cremations he undertook to carry out for clients of Bushy Equine vets.
On 9 November, Cooper was sentenced after pleading guilty to four charges of fraud and agreeing to 22 other cases being taken into consideration. Now retired, he was running John Cooper Livestock Services in Gloucester at the time of the offences. Bushy Equine has said it is “devastated” that its clients were deceived.
In February 2011 the serial fraudster pleaded guilty to five charges of fraud and four of failing to keep records of carcass transport and collection, and was fined £17,500 and ordered to pay almost £12,000 in costs.
Kevin Spurgeon, director of the APPCC, said: “I would urge horse owners to ensure that they check out any cremation service being offered to them as many equine cremation firms are actually slaughter men, knacker men or rendering services that may not even have their own cremator.
“The vets involved need to ask themselves whether they failed to protect their clients by not knowing exactly where Cooper was taking the horses they referred to him.
“It deeply saddens me that Mr Cooper was given every opportunity to admit these offences during the first investigation but failed to do so, and Trading Standards has uncovered further acts of fraud against vulnerable and grief stricken horse owners who trusted their vet to arrange a dignified individual cremation service for their much loved companion animals,” he added.
Members of the APPCC adhere to a code of conduct and believe that until all UK equine crematoria and the veterinary profession agree to sell cremation services according to standard descriptions, bereaved owners will continue to be misled.
Mr Spurgeon added: “Quite simply, people are currently paying high prices for cremation services that often do not meet their expectations. Cooper, who didn’t even have his own cremation facilities, has once again brought the pet cremation industry into disrepute.”
The APPCC has put together a best practice guide for equine cremation services, which can be obtained by calling its national helpline on 01252 844 478.