GEORGE TOWN: Many people treat their pets as “part of the family” and when they pass on, giving them a decent burial is to be expected and becoming a norm.
Due to the special bond, some owners even shed tears while sending off their pets for their final journey.
A freelance photographer, who only wished to be known as Goh, described the bond she shared with her 17-year-old dog, a shih tzu-Maltese mix named Monster, as “loving and unbreakable”.
So when Monster died last August, Goh did not hesitate to give her “family member” a proper send-off with a short funeral.
“Monster was more than a pet. He was part of my family for over 17 years.
“We shared many joys and sorrows together. So when he left, I felt like a family member had died. I just had to give him a proper funeral, ” she said.
Goh, 55, said Monster was cremated and his ashes were scattered at sea.
“I spent about RM800 on the funeral, cremation and to take a boat out to sea to scatter his ashes, ” she said.
Another pet owner, Patrick Ooi, 34, said he and his girlfriend sought the services of a pet funeral parlour when their pet Poodle died.
“Her poodle had been with us for eight years and we wanted to give it a simple but proper send-off.
“I believe most owners would see their pets as loving family members. We would want to treat them with dignity, even after they die, ” he said when met at the parlour.
Meanwhile, Geri, 38, has been looking at options on how to send off her mini schnauzer, Ruby, which has been suffering health problems for the past two years.
“She will be 15 soon and has heart problems and liver damage. I’ve had her since she was a puppy, ” she said, adding that her dog also had hearing and vision problems.
Geri said she is prepared to cremate Ruby when the time comes and that she had engaged veterinarians to cremate her four cats and taken home their ashes in urns.
Another owner, Rosalind, also sought the help of a pet funeral service to send off her 10-year-old silky terrier, Summer, when it died in 2018.
“It cost me about RM800, ” she said, adding that she was able to bring back Summer’s ashes in an urn and it still sits in her home.
Koay Teng Chin, director of a pioneer pet funeral parlour in Penang, said more and more people are getting pets as companions.
“This is especially so for older folk whose children have grown up and moved out of the house.
“So their cats or dogs would be the ones they spend most of their time and form strong bonds with.
“When these animals die, it is inevitable for them to feel like having lost a family member, ” he said.
As a pet owner himself, Koay was devastated when his miniature pinscher, Happy, died in July 2019.
“Before Happy died, I was worried as I did not know how to handle her body properly.
“Back in 2017, she was very weak and unable to stand up without help, so I started researching the proper handling of pets after death.
“Back then, there was no one-stop pet funeral service in Penang, and the only available options were to go to the veterinarians or wrap them in a black plastic bag and throw them away, ” he said.
Koay said the death of his pet of over 16 years prompted him to start a pet funeral service so that owners could send them off with respect and dignity.