The loss of a pet is painful, just like the loss of a family member. But before you can cope with the grief, you have to deal with a more immediate concern: what do you do with the remains? Most people bury their pets in their backyards. Others choose to cremate their pets, choosing lovely urns that they can keep at home. Here’s an overview of your options.

Cremation and Burial Services in the Philippines

In Metro Manila, many clinics recommend Pet Valley Park and Crematory. Found in Silang, Cavite, Pet Valley provides pet after-life care products and services. Cremation services include the cost of the urn and pickup and delivery of the remains.

In case you want to bury your pet, and you don’t have a yard or a garden, Pet Valley’s Silang compound is home to a pet cemetery, a peaceful garden with bone vaults, mass burial grounds, and individual pet burial grounds where you can place headstones to mark the grave.

The Philippine Animal Welfare Society’s Animal Rehabilitation Center (PARC) is not a pet cemetery, but they are keenly aware that not everyone who loses a pet has a place to bury them. They accommodate such pet owners with their mass burial ground, “…as long as the pet
did not die of a contagious disease (i.e.parvo, distemper).” There is a burial fee of
Php500 for cats and average-sized (native) dogs, while the cost can go up to Php1,000
for large breeds.

Because it is a mass grave, tombstones, lapidas or markings are not allowed. Instead, PAWS suggests dedicating a tile to the late pet on the PARC Pet Memorial Wall. Each tile costs
Php2,500, which will also go towards the shelter’s maintenance.

Noah’s Ark Pet Columbaria in Tagaytay is the first of its kind in the Philippines. Open since 2012, Noah’s Ark offers packages that include cremation services and a vault. When you buy a vault at Noah’s Ark, you’re helping animals in need too, as a donation is made to Strike Animal
Welfare Society for every vault sold.

While a growing number of animal clinics and other businesses now offer pet cremation services,
not many offer custom urns as part of their basic package. Rainbow Bridge’s cremation services include “…a bespoke, matching eco-friendly set of urn, photo frame and keepsake box, in your preferred colors, on top of the pick-up and drop-off services. Depending on the size of the animal, the basic package can cost anywhere from Php 2,000 to 7,000.

Creative Remembrances

Not all pets get the burial and cremation treatment though. Local writer, editor, and spider enthusiast Timothy James Dimacali says some people like to keep deceased pets like spiders and scorpions close. “There are some who mount them, just like entomologists do with insects. You can also encase it in acrylic and turn it into a paperweight, or just put it in a jar of alcohol. A particularly big specimen is great when mounted but you’d need to desiccate it. You might need to stuff the body with cotton, because the abdomen will deflate once it’s desiccated.”

Kenji Inukai used to keep hedgehogs, and has buried a few of them. “If you don’t have a garden or a patch of soil for that, you can buy a flower pot. Most of the time, a plant grows after (the burial).”

Swimming Away

Many people joke about flushing the goldfish down the toilet, but it’s actually what some fish hobbyists do when their small fish die. Tropical fish aquarium and pond hobbyist Ruby Bayan Llamas gives the same advice. “…It depends on the size of the fish. Small ones you can flush
down the toilet. Others, you can bury in the garden, for the ants to eat and Mother Earth to reclaim. If you don’t have a garden, small dead fish can be packed in recyclable plastic and added to the ‘nabubulok’ bin. Big dead fish, like arowana or large carp, need to be buried.”

However you decide to deal with the remains of your beloved fish, the most important thing is to remove it from the aquarium or pond as soon as possible. Dead fish release toxins and pollute the water, which can be harmful to other fish and plants in the same environment.

Feathered Friends

Bird enthusiast Jeffrey Estaris keeps and breeds many different kinds of birds. “I
bury all of my pets when they die, in our backyard. Some of my bird breeder friends
laugh at me when I do that because most of them just throw away their dead birds.”

Estaris breeds budgies, parakeets, doves and finches. “These birds are buried but
nothing fancy. It’s more for hygienic purposes.” He takes extra care if they die due to
illness, “I separate them immediately when they die, before they can infect the others.
If I see that they’re sick, I quarantine them, and then as soon as they die, I wrap them
in plastic and bury them immediately.”

Some of Estaris’ birds, he considers special pets. “These are my favorites, like my
mynah bird, parrots, owl, and eagle. When they die, I even make caskets (from) boxes
for them and I remember particularly where I buried them.”

In keeping with the laws of nature, sometimes Estaries feeds the smaller birds to
the birds of prey. “When a generic [breeder] bird dies, I feed their remains to my
owl and hawks, like a treat. But only the dead birds. I never feed live or sick birds to
my birds of prey.”

There are many ways to say final goodbyes to a pet after it has breathed its last. While it is important to make a final gesture of love, it is also important to take care of your beloved pet’s remains in a safe manner.

 

This appeared as “What Remains” in Animal Scene’s November 2015 issue.