TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Since 2021, a non-profit group in Florida has pushed to enact regulations on how final care for pets who have passed away is handled. The bill, called Sevilla’s Law, was proposed after a family’s cat died, and the funerary process went “catastrophically” wrong.
According to information posted on SevillasLaw.com and reported by WJXT, Laurie Sullivan’s cat Sevilla was diagnosed with Lymphoma. Sullivan and her family paid for a “private, individual cremation, to have a final visit, to be in attendance during the cremation process and to have her ashes returned” at a pet crematorium.
However, the Sullivans instead arrived at the funeral home and, according to their story, were given remains that had already been cremated.
When the Sullivans asked what happened, they were told by the crematorium that “a catastrophic failure of process” had occurred. The family had the remains analyzed, due to their concerns over the issue, and the analysis reportedly showed “forensic scientists were unable to determine the ashes were those of a cat but found green glass, a funnel-shaped metal item and, most disturbing, human DNA.”
Seeking a solution, they turned to the Florida Division of Funeral, Cemetery and Consumer Services, part of the Florida Department of the Financial Services, for an investigation into the pet crematorium.
The Division’s “investigation determined the funeral home/pet crematorium did not violate any Florida Statutes because none exists.” With no legal remedy in place, they’ve pushed every year for a legislative solution, Sevilla’s Law. The Sullivans maintain they have still not been told what exactly led to the failure of process, which prevented them from giving Sevilla a final goodbye.
The previous attempt for the bill to pass has so far failed to pass muster. It was reintroduced again in the Florida Legislature for the 2023 session. Senate Bill 60, presented by state Sen. Gayle Harrell (R-Stuart) in 2023, would charge the Dept. of Agriculture with regulating animal cremation services.
According to analysis of the 2022 session’s version of the legislation, Sevilla’s Law would make it so pet crematories must give “a written description of their services” to the pet’s owner, the person making cremation arrangements for the pet owner, veterinarians, pet shops, and the FDACS, as well as others, upon request. The bill would also create civil penalties if a servicer gives false or misleading information.
Under the bill’s provisions, service providers must include certification of a pet’s identity with returned cremated remains and a private right of action is created, giving residents options for damage recovery and punitive damages in court for related issues.