There was a mixed public reaction to news of a luxury pet graveyard in Shanxi Province which offers plots of anything up to 36,800 yuan. Picture: An owner visiting her pet's grave. (Photo/CFP)
The pet funeral business is booming in China despite the fact there are no regulations in place to govern the industry. This is reflected in the high prices of pet cemetery plots across the country in which a plot, according to Sanqin Daily newspaper, can cost as much as 1,680 yuan (US$256)--36,800 yuan (US$5,618).
The lavish spending on deceased pets is clearly visible in the large number of graves in a pet cemetery in the eastern suburb of Xian, capital of Shaanxi Province. "To my love: I want to tell you, our love for you is the deepest love in the world," and "Dou Dou, my love for you is eternal," are just two examples of inscriptions dedicated to deceased pets by their owners.
During a recent visit by a reporter of the newspaper to the cemetery, a sad-looking woman came to the cemetery to pay her respects to her deceased pet. Offering sacrificial food offerings, she murmured: "Yo Yo, even your death cannot stop me from missing you."
The cemetery operator told the newspaper that the graveyard, covering 300 hectares at the foothills of a mountain and near a river, is the only pet graveyard in Xian. It is the final resting place for 600 deceased pets, including birds, snakes, pigs and cats. About 80 percent of the pets, however, are dogs.
The cheapest tomb plots in the cemetery are priced at 1,680 yuan (US$256) each; the cemetery also offers environmentally friendly types of funerals and interments in the park, such as tree burials. The most luxurious pet tombs in the park cost 36,800 yuan (US$5,618) each, which include an entire range of luxury funeral and interment services.
The most expensive pet interred in the cemetery is a male Tibetan Mastiff: his bereaved owner spent 4.8 million yuan (US$733,500) on a cemetery plot one year before the dog succumbed to a long term illness. His owner chose a burial plot priced at 16,800 yuan (US$2,560) and bought a luxurious jade coffin for the animal.
According to the reporter, public reaction to such lavish displays of affection for deceased animals is mixed. A man surnamed Zhao said that given an owner's deep bonds with his or her pets, it was unacceptable for pet owners to see their beloved pets buried in a casual manner.
A woman surnamed Liu, meanwhile, expressed support for environmentally friendly types of internment.
In contrast, a man surnamed Hu said that spending thousands of yuan on the burial of a pet and offering funeral rites similar to those provided for humans was "excessive."
An expert in sociology, Shi Ying, said that the emergence of pet cemeteries represented the existence of harmonious relations between humans and animals. However, he said that luxury cemeteries and funeral services should not be promoted.