When asked who is a man’s best friend, we often say it is one of our furry friends, for they have given us their absolute all. The number of pet owners in Taiwan has increased gradually and many of them consider their pets to be a part of their family. Just by looking at the huge crowd of people and pets at this week’s 2012 Taipei Pets Show, anyone could see that the market for pet products in Taiwan is gigantic.
Hoping to capture a share of this profitable market, a local life service business operator is introducing “prearranged cremation and memorial services for pets,” providing professional funeral services that take owners’ affections for their pets into consideration. The package includes counseling for anticipated pet loss, transporting the pet’s body to the funeral home, placing the body into a coffin, cremation, funeral coordination, holding a memorial service, interring the urn into a niche in a wall for ashes, and other aftercare services. All of the above help the owner cope with their grief while accompanying his or her beloved pet during its final journey in life.
Many pet owners nowadays are increasingly willing to spend more money and time to make their pets healthy and happy. As time goes by, the cruel fact that pet owners, in most cases, outlive their pets becomes even crueler as their pets get older. This has led to the opening of the newly established Pets Memorial Hall, located at Mujiliao in New Taipei City’s Sanjhih District. At an estimated cost of over NT$100 million, the hall is a colorful pet kingdom with a bright modern interior design, attempting to generate a carefree and homey atmosphere for aggrieved pet owners. Slightly more than an hour’s drive from downtown Taipei, the hall is built on a private cemetery, occupying approximately 58 hectares of land, on a mountain where one can look out over Baishawan and the north coast.
Lin Tzu-huan, assistant vice president of Lung Yen Life Service Co’s Tienlung Branch, told the Taipei Times on Monday that the two-story building was originally used as the company’s main office. Through a major rebuilding and remodeling of both the exterior and the interior, the hall includes a service reception counter, a worship hall, a memorial hall, a lounge for the family members of the deceased, and pink-color walls with niches for pets’ ashes. In recognition of the fact that some pets and their owners may not like pink, the funeral operator will build more walls for ashes with more subtle colors on the second floor in the near future. There will be a total of up to 30,000 niches on the first and second floor, according to Chen Hsin-tian, manager of Lung Yen Life Service Co’s Renyao Branch. Founded just a few weeks ago, the memorial hall has already had several urns of pets interred.
Adjusting to life without your pet can be hard, so purchasing a prearranged cremation and memorial service package while the pet is still healthy gives the owner sufficient time to make funeral choices that keep the pet’s best interests at heart. The package, however, may be pricey, costing around NT$60,000 to NT$100,000 for the whole funeral package. Fortunately, the amount can be paid in monthly installments.
Considering that some owners may not opt for extending the contract to maintain their pets’ urns in the memorial hall after several years, the operator only leases the niches for three-year periods, rather than selling them. If the owner wants to leave the pet’s urn there as it is after three years, then an additional charge must be paid and a new contract signed, thereby optimizing the use of the niches. If the owner decides not to extend the contract, the pet’s ashes can either be taken home or scattered under the memorial trees planted in the garden adjacent to the memorial hall.