A woman has been left feeling “lost” and "heartbroken" after a pet crematorium in Rossendale cremated her dog three days early, having confused him for another owner's pet.

After Sharmaine Smith’s dog, Charlie, was put to sleep on New Year’s Eve due to kidney complications, she planned to say her final goodbyes and hold a small service at Rossendale Pet Crematorium in Crawshawbooth.

The service was meant to be held last Friday (7 January), giving Sharmaine and her family a chance to see the 10-year-old shih tzu’s body for the final time and also get some mementos to keep.

However, their plans had to be cancelled after a “paperwork mix up” meant two dogs, both of which were called Charlie, were confused in the system – and Sharmaine’s dog was cremated three days early.

Lancashire Telegraph: Charlie the 10-year-old Shih TzuCharlie the 10-year-old Shih Tzu

Sharmaine, 40, said: “On Wednesday morning I got a phone call and someone from the crematorium said they were ‘really sorry but there has been a mix up with the paperwork’. Charlie had been cremated overnight.

“I just broke down and I couldn’t believe it… I had to put the phone down and gather myself.

“They asked me if I wanted him dropped off and I just thought, this isn’t a takeaway service - this is a beloved member of my family.”

She was offered a full refund by the crematorium but Sharmaine says it is not about the money and believes she has been “robbed” of a real chance to say goodbye.

She said: “I just feel heartbroken for my dog. I wasn’t there for him and we wanted to have a chance to say goodbye to him and I feel as if I have been robbed of that chance.

“As silly as it sounds, he was like a baby and a first child to me. He was such a kind and loving dog.

“It’s not been easy over the last 10 years but Charlie has been there through the ups and downs.”

Lancashire Telegraph: Sharmaine Smith's dog, CharlieSharmaine Smith's dog, Charlie

Knowing the crematorium also offer communal cremations, Sharmaine has also been left wondering if it is actually her dog’s ashes in the urn.

She said: “If they have made a mistake like this what other mistakes can they make? I am sat here with some ashes and it’s eating me up wondering if it is actually Charlie inside.

“I still can’t get any closure as I am just left wondering".

Sharmaine says she wishes she had done her research before booking the cremation service.

She said: “I don’t want anybody else to go through what I had gone through. I wish I had done my research as it’s not just a pet - it’s a loved one.”

Duncan Francis, divisional director at CVS group which Rossendale Pet Crematorium is part of, said “human error” was to blame for the incident.

He said: “We offer our deepest condolences to Sharmaine and apologise for the mistake, which was the result of a very rare and unfortunate human error.

“We uphold a very highest standards across all of our veterinary services and in this instance we have clearly fallen below those standards.

“We believe that all beloved pets should be treated with kindness and dignity. We maintain that our own ‘pet cremation with confidence’ principles and clear standards of practice for the cremation of pets.”