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 Inside Out - East Midlands: Monday June 23, 2003

AUF WIEDERSEHEN PET

Taxidermy and pet dog
Pet taxidermy is increasingly popular

What do animal lovers do when they lose a beloved pet. Inside Out investigates ways of coping with the pain of pet bereavement.

What does a pet owner do you when their beloved animal dies?

It's something which will affect most of us at some time, and often when it happens it takes us completely by surprise.

While some owners bury their pet in their back garden, there are others who either want to keep a constant reminder by having their animals stuffed.

Thanks to new technology, you can even freeze your pet and bring it back to life many years in the future.

Pet grave
Pet cemetery - a proper burial can help ease the pain

Pet therapy

Pet bereavement has become big business in the UK with owners now wanting a dignified end for their beloved animal.

Sophie Harwood from Grantham is one of the UK's leading pet bereavement counsellors.

She's well aware of the stress caused by the loss of a treasured furry friend.

"After the loss of a pet many owners can be overwhelmed with a feeling of sadness and loneliness. Indeed some people need a genuine shoulder to cry on," she says.

Bereavement support

Owners have a strong emotional and social relationship with a pet, and the death of an animal can elicit strong feelings that often parallel the grief from the loss of a human companion.

Man on beach with two dogs
A friend for life - pets provide unconditional love and are good for our health

Up to 75% of owners experience difficulties of disruptions in their lives after pets die.

The grieving process is just the same as for humans with a mix of feelings starting with shock and denial, and moving on to emotional pain and eventual acceptance.

The Blue Cross, Britain's pet charity, runs the Pet Bereavement Support Service and telephone helpline (0800 096 6606).

It provides advice and counselling through Telephone Befrienders who are trained to deal with pet bereavement problems.

Final farewells

Today you can say goodbye to your loving companion by hiring a pet funeral director to provide a complete package for the pet's final farewell.

Lincolnshire Pet Crematorium is one funeral service offering an alternative to the 'mass cremation' offered by vets.

Pet crematorium
Saying goodbye can be done with dignity at a pet crematorium

They will arrange the collection and cremation of your pet and guarantee that he or she will receive individual attention throughout.

If you want to go a step further, there's even a range of biodegradable and double-walled casket pet coffins.

Arrangements can also be made for burial at home, flowers and floral tributes, funeral cars and hearses.

Taxidermy

For those who want to preserve their pet's memory further, there's always taxidermy.

Emily Mayer is one of only a few people in the UK offering pet owners a taxidermy service.

She says: "I've been asked to work on dogs the service from working dogs to much smaller creatures like rats."

With prices starting from around £2000, taxidermy isn't a cheap option.

Frozen in time

But Inside Out has found another extreme way of preserving your animal which may even see it being brought back to life.

Stuffed pet rat
Goodbye, dear friend - this pet rat is immortalised by a taxidermist

The American company the Cryonics Institute (CI) offers its members the opportunity to suspend their pets in liquid nitrogen.

Owners can then try to bring them back for a second lease of life in the future.

Cryonic suspension can be performed on animals quite easily.

There's also less bureaucratic snags regarding autopsy, burial, and euthanasia than with humans.

It's a complicated and expensive procedure, and prices aren't cheap.

The full cost of storage for a cat, or animal of similar size, at the Cryonics Institute is $5,800.

For larger animals, the cost is roughly proportional to that for a human patient, depending on size.

Whether it will catch on in the UK is anyone's guess, but it could ease the pain of losing a beloved pet.

See also ...

On the rest of the web
Blue Cross
Animal Samaritans
Cryonics Institute
Lincolnshire Pet Crematorium
Pet Health
Pet Funerals
Funeral Services
Association of Private Pet Cemeteries
Arranging a Funeral - Pets

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Readers' Comments

We are not adding any new comments to this page but you can still read some of the comments previously submitted by readers.

KEVIN WHITE
I had my dog put down today. He was a rescue dog. I never knew his true age but I had him for just over three years. I own and run a pub so I am now faced with the difficulty of breaking the news to the locals.

I have had Brewester cremated and I will get his ashes and his ashes alone (the Vet promised that) so that I can scatter his ashes in the beer garden. The dog was so well loved I will have to hold a wake for him. As it is the lucky bugger is getting a beer named after him for our November beer festival.

I know that whatever dog I pick next will get the once over from the pub cat and also the locals who no doubt will want their say as to the sort of dog that they will have to put up with next.



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