Disclaimer: My editor is a soulless monster who doesn’t love animals, hence the headlines.
Many people now consider pets to be family, holding a special spot in our hearts. Any fur-parent will tell you that they often treat their pets like their own child. (Some children will even say that their parents treat the pets better than themselves!)
Some Malaysians might think “It’s just an animal what!” but pets are actually incredibly good for your mental and physical health.
Even thinking about your pets can eliminate negative feelings of rejection, according to a study done on social support. People also tend to anthropomorphise pets to show socially supportive traits such as “considerate” and “sympathetic”. By attributing such human traits to animals, we feel psychologically closer to them, and they are no longer “just animals” to us.
Which is why when these pets inevitably reach the end of their lives with us, their grieving human family will have to deal with another less-considered dilemma: how do you lay them to rest with dignity and peace worthy of the love they have given to the family?
How to kill them if they’re not already dead
If your pet is showing signs of old age or suffering, it might be a good idea to discuss the possibilities with your vet. Your veterinarian may partner with memorial service companies that specializes in pets.
However, if you are planning to put your pet to sleep, consider asking you vet if house-calls are possible.
Pets are always most relaxed at home. By doing so, you eliminate the stress of bundling your pet into the car and the panic your pet feels at the vet. Familiar surroundings will make their passing much more comfortable.
Additionally, if you have more than one pet, witnessing the passing of their friend can actually give them a peace of mind. Otherwise, your other pets can be distressed and alarmed that their friend never returned, and that grief can linger for months.
Get rid of the evidence
If you live on a landed property and your pet passed due to natural circumstances, you can consider burying them in your backyard if you want to still feel close to them.
The grave will need to be relatively deep to prevent wild animals from scavenging the remains. Try to dig a hole of at least half a meter deep.
However, if you do not own the property, please do not bury your pet on the land. Many people often try to bury their pets at nearby neighbourhood parks, but that land is usually publicly-owned, so it would be better if you can ask family or friends if they would be willing to let you bury your pet on their land.
This doesn’t apply if your pet was put to sleep through chemical means such as euthanasia. The drug used during euthanasia, an extremely concentrated anaesthetic agent called pentobarbital, can stay in the body and leech into the soil. Even worse, it can be fatal to wild animals or other pets that dig up and ingest the body themselves.
Pets who have died of diseases should also be cremated instead, as pathogens, parasites. and diseases can still be spread if the body is dug up by other wild animals.
There are plenty of private pet crematoriums in Malaysia now. As more and more people need the reassurance that their dear pet is being treated right, crematoriums now offer packages that include an urn with your pet’s ashes and a framed photo.
Cremation generally costs around RM500 and up, often depending on the weight of your pet. Different places can include pick-up services as well.
If you truly have no qualms about the way your pets are treated in their passing, you can also wrap them up in cloth and a black plastic bag to be disposed of in the landfill like all the other regular trash. But don’t do this, you monster.
(Ps. Please also do not throw your pets out the window of your condo even if you are afraid that they spread coronavirus.)
Anne is an advocate of sustainable living and the circular economy, and has managed to mum-nag the team into using reusable containers to tapau food. She is also a proud parent of 4 cats and 1 rabbit.