By Christopher Walsh, editor
A new initiative by the city will allow pet owners to identify roadkill in person, at a new morgue for dead pets.
Remains of stray cats and dogs killed by motorists will be kept at a facility in the southeast for 10 days to allow grieving owners the opportunity to properly identify their beloved sidekicks.
“People form a very close bond with their animals and when they go missing, they desperately want to know what happened,” said Bill Bruce, director of bylaw services. “They need to know that. They want the closure.”
Calgary’s road crews will no longer initially dispose of dead pets at the Shepard landfill, instead delivering the remains to the Animal Services Centre, where owners with tagged or tattooed pets will be contacted and asked if they want to make the grim pilgrimage to identify the body.
Bruce says the new program came as a result of pet owners demanding definitive proof of their animal’s demise, other than the tags previously sent to the owner after tragedy.
“They belong to somebody, so rather than just have them taken off to the landfill site, we do have the capacity to hold them here for 10 days,” he said.
Not everyone approves of the new service. Calgarian Derek Sweet says he would want to know if the City found his dead pet, but viewing the body goes too far.
“I don’t even go to funerals, as I’ve never understood how seeing a body does anything. If there is already a way to know when your pet has been killed and the only change is now you can go see the body I guess it’s fine if people want to do it, but that’s messed up. I would never get the image out of my head,” he said.
Bruce added there will be no charge to the owner for the new service and vehemently denied the program was a trick to fine pet owners for stray cats or dogs.
“I’d never issue someone a ticket,” he said. “This is trying to extend the services that we provide.”
The animals’ descriptions will be uploaded to a website that people can access to determine if their pet may be on the list of new admissions. Bruce is confident the new program will help pet lovers cope with their loss. They can then decide whether to permit the city to hold a civic ceremony at the landfill, or hold a private service of their own.
“If you think it’s yours, come down,” he said. “As unpleasant as it may be – but if you want to check – we’ll take it out of the freezer for you, you have the right. If you want to take it home and make final arrangements, there’s not even a charge for it.”