Beijing, Aug 12 (EFE).- China’s booming pet economy has sparked a rise in funeral services for animals, with pets also expected to be honored as part of Friday’s Ghost Festival celebrations.
The festival is observed on the 15th night of the seventh month according to the Chinese lunar calendar when, according to popular culture, the spirits of ancestors awaken to roam the world of mortals.
Families mark the event by burning incense and fake money for ancestors to enjoy in the afterlife and hosting plentiful banquets to honor the dead.
And it is not just humans being honored. With some 70 million pet owners, funeral rituals and commemorative events for pets have increased in recent years.
By late 2020, China’s pet market had reached $44 billion and is expected to swell to $64 billion by 2023, according to a report by IResearch Consulting Group.
Within the pet economy, there are around 1,400 companies offering services and products which include cremation and funeral services for the three million animals that die each year in China.
“We receive between 800 and 1,000 reservations every year,” Wang Yinghao, co-founder of Beijing-based company Rainbow Planet, tells Efe.
Rainbow Planet’s funeral services cost between $89 and $890, depending on the weight and breed of the animal.
Customers typically book them “a day after their pet dies,” Wang adds.
A MEMBER OF THE FAMILY
Pet funeral services originated in Japan and first emerged in China in 2005, Liu Hongyan, a researcher with the Institute of Law at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, was quoted as saying by local media.
The most common method of disposing of animal remains is cremation, which not only prevents the spread of bacteria but also provides owners with a dignified way to say goodbye.
“These services are very comfortable. Our dogs, who love us unconditionally, deserve a dignified way to undertake their last trip and the ceremony serves as a consolation for the family, who will have no regrets,” Zhu Xiaopo, a user of dog funeral services, said on social media.
But not everyone agrees. “Bury it and that’s it, what need is there for everything to become a consumer item?” another person commented.
One of the issues the young and rapidly expanding sector faces is the absence of a regulatory authority and a lack of training for workers in the industry, something Liu says could be solved by getting the pet industry to help inform government guidelines and regulations for the sector.
“In view of the rapid development of the pet funeral industry in China, the regulatory authorities should accept consumer demands and respect that development while regulating unreasonable business practices in a timely manner,” Liu said, according to the state-backed China Daily newspaper.EFE