Aquamation: another way to say goodbye

Aquamation: another way to say goodbye

If cremating your deceased pet doesn't appeal to you, why not consider aquamation? A resident of Sept-Îles, Quebec, discusses her experience with our collaborator.

June 23, 2019

“It was always clear to me that when my dog died I would have him cremated,” says Paméla Marcoux Monger. “I was even ready to travel a long way for that purpose because I live 640 km northeast of Quebec City—far from urban centres. But when I heard that a new business in my town was providing aquamation for pets, I decided that I'd take that route when the moment came.”

What is aquamation?

The scientific name for aquamation (or biocremation) is alkaline hydrolysis. It's a straightforward procedure: the body is placed in a tank filled with hot alkaline water and the gentle motion of the solution causes the remains to dissolve within a period of approximately 15 hours. After this process, only bones and teeth are left, which are in turn reduced to powder or what we refer to as “ashes”.

Less disturbing

“It strikes me as a gentler, more natural way to complete the life cycle. I prefer the thought of Beaver floating in water for 15 hours rather than being burned to a cinder,” says Marcoux Monger.

Another important advantage: aquamation is less damaging to the environment; the procedure requires 8 times less energy and emits 160 times less CO2 than cremation.

Beaver died from pancreatitis in July last year. Vicky Henley, the owner of Aquanimaux in Sept-Îles, treated Beaver as if he'd been her own dog. “I was able to keep one of my dog's canine teeth before his remains were turned to powder,” says Marcoux Monger. “I left with Beaver's ashes in the urn that I'd picked. It was comforting to go home with my dog's remains.”

Aquamation in Canada

Aquamation has been used in Canadian slaughterhouses and research laboratories for decades to safely dispose of animal remains. The procedure has also become an option for companion animals and even human remains.

For human beings, aquamation is legal in 15 American states. Saskatchewan was the first Canadian province to legalize the procedure for people. And it's now also available in this context in Quebec and Ontario, where funeral homes are beginning to offer the service. For animals, the procedure is legal throughout Canada.

Back in Sept-ÃŽles: Aquanimaux charges between $275 and $485 depending on the weight of the animal. The price includes a wooden urn, a lock of your pet's fur and an aquamation certificate.


Beaver's urn sits in a corner of the living room at Paméla Marcoux Monger's home, alongside a photo of the dog, his collar and a plant that friends gave her when the beloved dog passed away. “He watches over us every day.”

Photo credit: Marie-Eve Fortin

Cover photo: High Five Beaver!
Photo 1: Paméla Marcoux Monger with her precious dog Beaver.
Photo 2: His powerful stare will live on forever.

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