Gateway Pet Memorial's Scott Hunter was on vacation in the U.S. on July 10 when he found out his company's van had been stolen. Gateway offers pet cremations and viewing/visitations — so the remains and cremated remains of over two dozen pets were in the back. Those animals were destined for funeral services and visitations.
"I felt sick to my stomach," Hunter told CBC Hamilton from Gateway's location in Guelph, Ont. "I was extremely upset for these families thinking about what they must feel."
"I wish I knew who did it, and why. I just can't fathom it."
The van was stolen outside a downtown Hamilton vet hospital last week, police say. An employee was inside picking up an animal when someone took off in the van, Hunter says.
Hunter flew home from the U.S., and a dozen Gateway employees have been scouring the east end of Hamilton ever since looking for any sign of the vehicle or the bodies. The company even went so far as to hire a plane to search for the van from the air.
Police tracked down the vehicle Wednesday morning in an alley south of Cannon Street East and east of Birch Street. All of the animal remains were still in the back.
"We were ecstatic. We couldn't be happier," Hunter said.
There aren't many businesses like Gateway Pet Memorial in Ontario that offer cremation and visitation services for pets, Hunter says.
Now, he's calling each family to let them know their pet has been recovered.
"It's been a trying time for all of us," he said. "My stomach has been upside down. At least it has come to a conclusion."
No arrests have been made in the case. Detectives are investigating.