The biggest pet show of the year opened in Taipei yesterday to take advantage of the growing interest in pet-keeping in Taiwan.
The annual event, now in its 16th year, featured over 850 booths, compared with 720 last year, event organizers said.
The show continues to grow in scope because an increasing number of Taiwanese are keeping pets.
According to a 2011 Council of Agriculture survey, there were over 1.5 million pet dogs and 373,000 pet cats, compared with the 2009 level of 1.3 million and 282,000 respectively.
Highlights of the event included races for dogs and rabbits, competitions that allowed pets to demonstrate their skills, as well as training classes for pet owners, the Taipei Pets Appliances Association said.
Pet services, supplies and fashion trends from all over the world were also presented at the show, which last year drew over 160,000 visitors to the same venue, Nangang Exhibition Hall.
The local pet market has sustained its growth momentum, gathered over the past few years despite the economic downturn, with the emergence of more diverse pet-related merchandize and services, vendors at the show said.
The latest trend includes high-end pet healthcare, funeral and fortune-telling services, they said, adding that the pet market is now worth NT$25 billion (US$836 million).
“Pet owners nowadays are willing to do almost anything for their furry kids,” Lung Yen sales manager Yeh Ming-hung said.
Life Service Co (龍巖集團), a local life services business operator, started providing funeral services for pets — similar to those it offers for human beings — two years ago.
Yeh said nearly 200 pet owners asked about the company’s services and filled in questionnaires within three hours of the show opening, adding that he therefore expects better sales this year compared with last year, when the company first registered at the event.
The company keeps a memorial hall with about 30 urns for pets.
It costs around NT$50,000 for a funeral package and an additional NT$55,000 to keep the pet’s urn in the hall for three years.