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More owners choose to pay last respects to pets

By Huang Ying  (China Daily)

08:49, April 03, 2013

Wang Bojun says he finds it soothing to spend time in the graveyard where his beloved 10-year-old bulldog was laid to rest in November.

"It's very good to have a place to go when I miss it. Being there eases the pain," Wang said.

Located along the North Sixth Ring Road in the Changping district of Beijing, the pet's final arrangements were taken care of by Baifu Pet Heaven Animal Burial Center, which has been around for more than a decade.

But according to Chen Shaochun, the owner of the center, this kind of service has really grown in popularity in recent years.

The 6.67 hectare site of the pet cemetery was originally intended to have trees planted on it, said Chen.

A pet owner himself, Chen first offered burial plots for dead pets of his colleagues at the China Small Animal Protection Association for free.

"By 2004, more and more pet owners started calling me, asking if they could bury their deceased pets in my forest. So from then on, I decided to run it more professionally, as a pet cemetery," Chen said.

"I reckoned the dead bodies of the animals could serve as organic fertilizer for my trees while at the same time, pet owners could have a place to reminisce about their pets," he added.

It took a fair amount of effort to get the center officially registered with the Beijing Administration for Industry and Commerce, because no laws existed to regulate how people dealt with their dead pets. In fact, there are still no laws today.

As demand grew for his cemetery service, Chen bought a professional electric cremator — at a cost of 300,000 yuan ($47,610) — and took on staff. He now has seven working for him.

He charges between 300 and 400 yuan for a regular size animal — he handles mainly cats and dogs — while larger pet costs 100 or 200 yuan more, Chen said.

At the Bo'ai Companion Animal Burial Service Center, the capital's first officially registered pet crematorium, the cost for cremating a pet up to 20 kg in weight is 500 yuan, and for one heavier than that, it increases to 800 yuan, said its general manager Liao Yumin.

Chen said that around 60 percent of Baifu's customers choose to have their pet cremated, with the rest preferring burial.

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