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Growing number of pet cemeteries in Beijing draws public concern over safety, pollution

By Sun Wenyu (People's Daily Online)    15:02, March 30, 2017

The rising number of pet cemeteries in Beijing has lately incited public concern. Some residents wonder whether these cemeteries are actually harmless, or if they may be putting toxins into the environment.

Statistics show that more than 100 million pets had been registered in China by 2016, suggesting that 1 in every 13 Chinese people has a pet. As a result, the question of what to do with deceased pets is looming larger than ever.

Some large-scale graveyards for pets in suburban Beijing offer pet funeral services for prices ranging from 300 RMB ($44) to 5,000 RMB. Ten thousand RMB buys a luxury grave complete with decorations. An employee of a pet cemetery told Beijing Youth Daily that pets can be buried without first being cremated, but coffins for large dogs require another 1,000 RMB. Baifu cemetery, a pet graveyard in Beijing, now has more than 10,000 graves, more than 4,000 of which are occupied.

"95 percent of the pets are buried underground," an employee of the cemetery confirmed.

According to some data, the pet market is growing by 20 percent on a yearly basis. There are now more than 3 million pets in Beijing, and that figure is also on the rise. Given a death rate of between 8 and 10 percent, more than 300,000 bodies of deceased pets must be disposed of annually.

Currently, at least 10 organizations in suburban Beijing are able to cremate animals. However, only three of them have been certified as providing hazard-free cremation services. In addition, hardware used for animal cremation also carries some safety risks. According to the Beijing Municipal Research Institute of Environmental Protection, these simple devices are often not equipped with any dust-cleaning apparatus, which means they fail to meet safety standards.

A hazard-free treatment system for the disposal of deceased animals was made available in Beijing starting from Jan. 1, 2017. The system, jointly operated by Beijing Municipal Bureau of Agriculture and Beijing Huanwei, the largest sanitation company in Beijing, will offer 851 locations for corpse collection and temporary storage. Citizens are not required to pay for the service as it is covered by public funds. 

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(Web editor: Hongyu, Bianji)

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