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More owners choose to pay last respects to pets (2)

By Huang Ying  (China Daily)

08:52, April 03, 2013

Wang Bojun liked the thought of having his dog buried under a tree, in a place he found comforting to visit.

Wang actually spent 6,000 yuan, for the complete after-death services, including the burial plot, a tombstone and casket.

The price of a standard burial plot — 1.5 square meters of land under a tree — is 1,500 yuan, but some people don't think that's big enough for their "babies", added Chen.

"A few years ago, a man flew back from the United States specially to find a good place to bury his dog, and he bought 12 plots here," Chen recalled.

That beloved dog still holds the graveyard's space record, but since 2011, Chen has limited customers from purchasing plots in advance to prevent similar cases of extravagance.

In the past, he said many people were buying more than one plot for just one animal, to leave space for future pets.

"But, year after year, the ‘other pets' never appeared," Chen said.

More than 3,000 burial plots in the Baifu pet center have been occupied, with about 10,000 still available.

"Only about 20 percent of pet owners who have their pets cremated here, then choose to bury them in the cemetery — the rest prefer to take the remains home," said Chen. People come to visit their pets at any time, not just during Qingming Festival, or Tomb Sweeping Day, he said.

Wang added he visited his deceased bulldog every fortnight since it died.

While dogs and cats make up 80 percent of the animals buried there, the rest include rabbits, monkeys, snakes, birds, and even fish.

Customers can opt to buy their funeral items, often cheaper, from outside the cemetery, but Chen said he encourages people not to be spendthrifts, out of respect for their beloved animals.

About 90 percent of Chen's customers live in Beijing, but he has had customers arriving from all over China, including Tianjin and Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, and even abroad.

He calls on the government to draft proper rules and regulations governing his type of business, which he says will only grow larger as demand increases. But he fears that if nothing is put in place, there is always the danger of being closed down.

Liao said, about 500 dogs and cats die every day in the capital, but his center only receives about 30 animals every month.

Chen's business cremates around 150 animals a month, but he believes there is huge potential in the market, given the conservative estimate of more than a million dogs in Beijing alone.

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