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Tragic goodbye inspires Florida bill seeking to regulate pet cremations

Published: Dec. 2, 2021 at 7:00 PM EST
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (CAP NEWS/WCJB) - Imagine losing a family pet, having it cremated and later finding out the ashes you received didn’t actually belong to your pet at all.

That’s exactly what happened to one Florida resident.

Her story is the inspiration behind new legislation aimed at bringing more transparency into the pet cremation process.

When Laurie Sullivan lost her cat after a long battle with lymphoma she wanted to be there for the cremation.

Instead, she was told it had already happened and something went catastrophically wrong.

“They to this day have never answered what happened,” said Sullivan.

She went looking for answers on her own and sent the ashes she was given to the University of Florida for DNA testing.

The results were shocking.

“They could not identify that it was a cat, but most alarming was they found human DNA,” said Sullivan.

Laurie’s story caught the ear of State Senator Gayle Harrell, who for the past three years has carried legislation that would require more transparency from cremation providers.

The bill is named ‘Sevilla’s Law’ in honor of Laurie’s cat, who inspired the legislation.

“We want to make sure that little box on your shelf is truly your pet,” said Harrell.

Under the bill, crematoriums that deceive pet owners about the service they’re receiving could face a $1000 fine.

We spoke with Stoney Thompson who runs Peaceful Pets, a pet crematorium service in Panama City.

He told us he started his company after seeing what happens at larger facilities.

“We provide a private ceremony here and we do things a little bit different than we found was being done in the past,” said Thompson.

Thompson said he thinks more transparency would be good for the industry as a whole and most importantly for the owners.

“There’s a lot of room for a more personal intimate service with the family member, cause pets are family too,” said Thompson.

The bill cleared its first Senate committee Thursday, the same day a House companion was filed.

After three years of failing to get traction, Laurie and Senator Harrell are holding out hope this will be the year it passes.

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