Judge David Pugsley of the Derby Crown Court handed down his decision on a rather unusual case this week. Emma Bent, owner of an enterprise based in Heage called Peak Pet Cremations, was sentenced to eight months in jail on several counts of fraud and other charges related to an unlicensed business and improper disposal of animal wastes.
Ms. Bent had been operating her business as a combination of a pet crematorium and a clinical waste disposal operation. Her claim to bereaved pet owners was that the animals would be given a “dignified” cremation and the ashes returned to their owners in tasteful (and expensive) containers. She also had a contract with Ambivet, a large veterinary practice with several branches in the surrounding area, to dispose of dangerous waste such as used syringes and bandages. Ambivet also sent many of their clients to her for cremation services.
According to reports from court proceedings, Bent had billed around £91,000 to the veterinary service over almost four years, but investigators found hundreds of pounds of
waste in plastic bags along with decomposing animals in a shed on the property she leased for her business. The investigation was touched off by a report from a local man walking his dogs, who discovered the bodies of four other dogs in a ditch, and called the authorities. The dead animals were traced back to Emma Bent, and the façade started to crumble.
When Judge Pugsley handed down his sentence, he noted that the environmental hazard posed by Bent’s methods of disposal, which included unlicensed burning and dumping bodies in ditches, was not the only aspect he considered. The judge told Ms Bent that
her lack of any consideration for the feelings of the pets’ owners caused real pain, aside from the fact that most of them received not the ashes of a beloved pet, but the leavings from one of her illegal bonfires.