Funeral Home Burns Pet Owners

Last week I wrote about the tragedy in Penrose, Colorado, involving Return to Nature funeral home. Owners Jon and Carie Hallford failed to give almost 200 people proper green burials or cremations and instead improperly stored the bodies in one of their shut down locations.

Unfortunately, this despicable practice isn’t limited to people.

Jacob Jetton owns Paws to Remember, a pet cremation service in Paducah, Kentucky. Eerily similar to the situation involving Return to Nature, in May of this year, neighbors of Paws to Remember complained to the McCracken County sheriff’s department for over a month about an awful smell coming from the 24-year-old’s business.

When deputies went to investigate, they found eight decomposing dogs in the back of his truck. Some of those dogs were pets he told owners he had already cremated. Thankfully, all the pets in question were identified and their owners have been alerted.

To help achieve closure, Lindsey Funeral Home in Paducah properly cremated the remains and returned them to their owners. David Godfrey, managing partner with Lindsey, told local NBC affiliate WPSD News, “So, we’re stepping in to do the best we can of what we’re trained to do and that’s to console, and to give them the honorable ending that they should’ve gotten to start with for their pet.”

Deputy Lindsey Miller is the department’s animal cruelty specialist, and she was assigned the case. “They are pets, but to most of these people, they are their babies, and it was heartbreaking,” she said. “I think one of the people ultimately I ended up knowing, I didn’t realize it at the time,” Miller continued. “And every time I see her, she asks where her cat is. And it breaks my heart because I have no idea.”

Just like in Penrose, after news broke of Jetton’s arrest, the McCracken sheriff’s office was flooded with calls from other Paws to Remember customers worried that their beloved pets were also not properly cremated. It turns out that some of those owners were given urns filled with dry concrete, sand and even charcoal, but not their pet’s ashes.

“Those people I’ve reached out to, they’ve brought samples to me of what Jetton had given them, and that’s kind of part of what’s going on with that case, but we’ve had a couple more people reach out,” Miller said. She also indicated that there are still more victims. “Fourteen pet owners. A couple of those pet owners were also victims of other kinds of fraud from him, and then I had more people step forward later on that he would defraud also,” she explained.

The department is still working to find everyone investigators say Jetton scammed. Sheriff Ryan Norman indicated the process is difficult because the pets they recovered were not tagged. “We’re devoting as much time as we can to it,” he told WPSD. “Again, it might take a while to do it right, but we’re determined to do that.”

Owners who lost pets in and used the business “Paws to Remember” between January and May of this year were encouraged to contact law enforcement.

In May, Jetton was arrested and charged with not having a business license, theft by deception, and disorderly conduct in connection with the incident. He has also since been evicted from his business location. He is currently in McCracken County jail, awaiting trial.

And if I know anything about pet owners, that’s probably the safest place he could be right now.

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Reg P. Wydeven

Elder Law and Estate Planning Attorney at McCarty Law LLP
Hoping to follow in his father’s footsteps from a young age, Reg’s practice primarily consists of advising individuals on estate planning, estate settlement and elder law matters. As Reg represents clients in matters like guardianship proceedings and long-term care admissions, he feels grateful to be able to offer families thorough legal help in their time of need.

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