Does my pet need a funeral?

Is a cardboard box buried at the bottom of the garden not enough anymore? While the average cost for funerals is rising, and bespoke funerals are on the up, do our pets really want the same treatment? Or are we just being told that’s what they want?

Statistics from the RSPCA in conjunction with the PFMA say that about 1 in 2 households in the UK has a pet. Obviously, all of these pets will die, and all of these pets probably have had or are having a significant impact on someone’s life. Surely our lifelong companions deserve only the best?
According to The Guardian, as of 2015, “a quarter of pet owners have either organised funerals for their animals or would consider doing so. Apparently, more than 50 crematoriums and cemeteries in Britain already offer pet funerals, complete with tombstones, custom-made coffins and religious blessings, and some of Britain’s bigger funeral parlours already carry out up to 10,000 services for animals a year.”

The APPCC  – The Association of Private Pet Cemeteries and Crematoria estimate that there are about 75 dedicated pet cemeteries and crematoria in the U.K. that will bury anything from a. goldfish to a horse. A pet cemetery in Penzance is resting place to over 300 horses, as well as Chef Rick Stein’s dog – Chalky. Some crematoria, such as Penwith Pets Crematorium, Pet Cemetery & Memorial Gardens in Penzance, offer both human and animal burials.

How much does it cost?

Prices for individual cremation vary depending on weight, typically ranging from £42 to £258, with an extra £60 if you wish to have the ashes returned to you. Burial, on the other hand, is much more expensive. Individual burials generally range from £250-£500 and annual site maintenance fees costing about £20-£50 a year.
If you wish to be buried with the ashes of your pet it’s an extra £550.00. Scattering of the ashes on their site costs £100.

However, communal cremations, meaning yours and others pets are cremated together costs from £5-£30, again, depending on weight. The issue here is that there is no way of guaranteeing that your pet’s ashes, won’t mix with someone else’s. This ‘token ash’ is something that the APPCC says, isn’t always made clear to customers.

Many companies offer similar options as to what can be done with human remains, such as memorial jewellery made with a horses mane, or the ashes of a cremated pet Or there is always taxidermy (just make sure it doesn’t end up here). Which can be great, cheaper alternatives to a pet funeral or cremation.

“It’s just an animal”

Grief is grief, and the way you choose to send off your loved one can have a huge impact in the way you deal with that grief. In this case of a pet, there are no wills or funeral wishes. It really is up to the owner and there’s often the feeling of responsibility to get it right.

Alongside this is the fact that many pet deaths are a result of euthanasia. For most people, this is the only life and death decision they will ever make and the responsibility and guilt associated with making that sort of decision can be overwhelming.

Many people experience the death of a pet through disenfranchised grief, or, grief that isn’t widely accepted by society. This mass non-understanding can have effects on the way people process the death. For example, many pet owners feel uncomfortable taking bereavement leave when a pet has died.

Likewise, for a person who is close to someone experiencing the loss of a pet, it’s hard to know how much one should console. It can be especially hard if they have never had a pet themselves. Does a cat get more than a goldfish? What about a parrot over hamster? While a pet isn’t technically a family member, the death of one can alter the family dynamic.

As there is no strict method for dealing with a pets death, this has been seen as an opportunity by industries to create their own ‘industry standards’. People threaten themselves with remorse and guilt if they don’t live up to these arbitrary ideas. The truth is, there is no ‘right’ way of giving a pet a funeral – just like a human being – the same options are available. Thinking outside the box (biodegradable or not) should be encouraged and welcomed.

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