The manufactured outrage over Geronimo’s remains does raise an important issue about how we perceive people’s grief over the loss of companion animals. 🧵 /1
Alpacas (however kept) are considered livestock in the UK. It is illegal to bury any livestock, with the exception of pet horses.… /2
His positive bTB test meant that Geronimo’s body was a Class 1 ABP and had to be disposed of such. Individual cremation for any animal is relatively unusual so it is likely his remains and therefore ashes were mixed with those of others.… /3
It’s also unlikely that there is a standard process for returning Class 1 ashes. The owner would have known this as she is a vet nurse. Could DEFRA have handled the body disposal more sensitively? Yes, although we don’t know what communication went on behind the scenes. /4
Some of the public reaction to the idea of a funeral for Geronimo is, however, unfair. He was a pet. The idea that a companion animal is “only a <insert species here>” denies the reality for many people. /5
Pets give us - among many other things - love, companionship, and routine. Grief at their loss is very real and very valid. Dismissing people’s feelings because you don’t understand them is unfair. /6
If you doubt that the grief of pet bereavement is real, look at the number of pet bereavement support services which have blossomed over the past few years. /7
We need, as a society, to realise the profound effect that the death of a companion animal can have on people’s mental health both short and long-term. We need to take this seriously, and provide appropriate support. /end

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