Shanghai's first funeral service center for pets opened in the Pudong New Area yesterday.
The center aims to provide professional cremation and ecological burial in an effort to reduce environmental pollution.
The company, Pet Heaven, cremates the pets as well as offers various burial services. It also offers to set up memorial websites for them, an official with the company said yesterday.
The center will dispatch a hearse vehicle to pick up the pet for cremation. The ash will be buried and a tombstone erected at a pet cemetery. The owners can also choose between tree or water burial for their pets.
"All forms of burial will be environmentally friendly while making sure no diseases are spread," the official said.
Cremating the pet alone costs about 1,000 yuan (US$162.5), according to the company's website www.pet-heaven.com.cn.
Pet owners usually just bury or dump the bodies which pollutes the environment and spread diseases, experts said.
Protests over "gravestone"
A local pet owner surnamed Wang said she wrapped the body of her pet dog in a towel and buried it in the garden of her neighborhood because she "had no idea how to handle the dead animal."
Wang erected a wooden board in the garden as a "gravestone," leading to protests by the neighbors.
According to a survey by a local newspaper, most pet owners simply buried their pets or dumped them into garbage bins.
At a neighborhood in Pudong, some rubbish collectors even claimed to "handle" the dead pets for the owners for charges ranging from 200 yuan (US$32.47) to 500 yuan.
The owners said they knew nothing about what the collectors did to the dead pets.
"If the bodies were exposed to air, the bacteria could lead to diseases that could harm the human respiratory system," said Zhou Ming, a veterinarian from the Shanghai Pet Union.
Some animal bodies have infectious diseases, parasites or rabies, so it was dangerous to dump them with garbage. Strays dogs and cats nibbling off dead carcasses can also spread diseases, Zhou said.
Local urban management authority can fine individuals 200 yuan for dumping dog bodies.
Shanghai has only one authorized cremation center for pets in suburb Fengxian District, said an official with the Shanghai Pet Industry Association.
However, local pet owners have been complaining that it was too far, while the ash can only be collected if the owners cremate the bodies alone, a pet owner said on his microblog.
The owners only get a receipt if the pets are cremated in a group, he added.
The Fengxian cremation center was established in 2003, initially for cattle.
The city has over 80,000 registered pet dogs, while the actual number is likely to be much higher, the association said.
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