Former veterinary employee: Long wait times at pet crematory were common

For weeks, FOX46 has been looking into reported issues from clients of Charlotte Pet Cemetery and Crematory, which noted weeks of issues related to long wait times in getting pet remains back to their owners.

Clients said the business, as it is currently set up, lacks transparency. A family member of the owner who did not wish to go on the record told FOX 46 the company has been run the same way for some time—specifically, not allowing clients to either see or come by the crematory’s business to either witness a cremation or to pick up their animal’s remains.

People who used the service to get their pet’s cremated noted that they were given a timeline of days to get their remains back, but instead had waited months.

“(It would) happen regularly, at least once a month,” said Jaimie Adams-Romb, a former veterinary clinic supervisor, of the issues that would show up. She said she encountered Charlotte Pet Cemetery and Crematory owner Terry Davis on a nearly daily basis.

RELATED: Animal remains found on property of pet crematory accused of failing to return ashes

“Over seven years, I worked at multiple facilities. The problems weren’t at just one, it was multiple,” she said, when asked if the problems she encountered with the crematory were limited to one or more animals hospitals she had been previously employed at.

The Charlotte Pet Cemetery and Crematory was known to be among the first of its kind in Charlotte.  Founded in the 1960s, it originally served a limited audience.  But as the area has grown and has sentiments on pets have changed, services like those offered through the business have become more popular.

FOX 46 found out that there are no state laws regulating pet cemeteries and crematories in North Carolina.  But many pet crematories we spoke with said they have a specific guidelines for best practices and ethical rules they follow, which include allowing visits.

“Anybody can show up at any time and go from the front to the back of our facility,” said David Dygowski, account manager for Faithful Companion, a pet crematory based out of Charlotte.

The business, originally started by a family who had previous experience in the funeral home industry, is located off Carolina Avenue, and is accredited with several professional organizations that deal with funeral homes and also pet crematories.

Dygowski said they handle around 20 private cremations a day at Faithful Companion, allowing people to stay for the length of the cremation if they wish, and promising a 24-hour turnaround in returning the remains to the owner, if they want them.  He said it’s standard practice.

“They want to get their pet home. They want to have the closure,” said Dygowski.

Multiple people have told FOX 46 that Charlotte Pet Cemetery and Crematory does not allow people to come to their place of business. Multiple people have also noted that long wait times were routine with the business. 

Among them was Kelley Sheehan, who initially contacted FOX46 after her pet’s remains weren’t returned to her after four months. Monday afternoon, the Charlotte Pet Cemetery and Crematory returned her chihuahua’s cremated remains.

“I don’t believe it’s her,” Sheehan said.

After our initial stories on Sheehan’s fight to get her pet’s remains back in January, an anonymous source came forward with pictures and video of the listed address of the business in Huntersville. The images, shot and recorded over the course of two years, shows apparent animal remains littered throughout the property.

Adams-Romb said she witnessed how the owner of Charlotte Pet Cemetery and Crematory would treat the animal carcasses he loaded up, alleging that he would simply, and literally, throw them into the back of his truck.  She also said she had to explain to pet owners whenever pets were simply lost or couldn’t be located after having been sent to the business.

“You had no answer, but to tell them, ‘we lost your pet, we lost your pet’,” she said.

Adams-Romb, who no longer works in the veterinary field, said they had to develop a tracking system at one of the animal hospitals she worked at because the issues became a regular enough occurrence.

“I put my face and my name, and the company I work for, behind this pet cemetery. (And) I never knew what answer I was going to have to give in a month when hey didn’t have their pet,” she said, adding, “and that’s not good for business.”