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Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Pets Getting 'Family Funerals'


LIFE STYLE EXTRA (UK) - Animal-loving Brits are giving their deceased pets the perfect send-off - with family-style funerals.

Choosing a coffin, ordering flowers, playing a favourite song and reading poetry are all part of the typical ceremony today - for dogs.

And three-quarters of owners who held funerals (74 per cent) say the service for their four-legged friends was just as important as family ones, a Direct Line Pet Insurance survey shows.

Meanwhile, one-in-five who have buried their dog make time to visit its grave on a daily basis, with 29 per cent paying weekly homage.

Common features of pet funerals include talking about the deceased dog's life and character (53 per cent), prayers (47 per cent) and laying flowers (29 per cent). The ceremonies often involve readings (12 per cent) and playing a favourite song (nine per cent).

But giving a pet a proper send off does not come cheaply. A fifth of dog owners spend more than £100 after their dog has passed away, with one in 20 spending more than £200.

Almost half of all dog owners who held a funeral (47 per cent) admit to loving their late dog more than members of their extended family and meanwhile, a third use funerals as a way to introduce their children to issues surrounding death (32 per cent).

Britons' plans to mark their dogs' lives are also revealing, according to the survey of 1,139 dog owners. Twenty nine per cent would have their dog cremated and its ashes scattered somewhere special, and one in 10 (nine per cent) would commission a work of art. A dedicated one per cent of all dog owners would have their faithful companion stuffed.

Direct Line Pet Insurance head Chris Price said: "Many people see their dog as one of the family, which explains why 82 per cent of the dog owners who held a funeral said a proper service to mark their passing is the least they deserve after a lifetime of devotion.

"Coping with the death of a much loved dog can be difficult so those struggling with bereavement should take comfort from appropriate counselling services.

"To help pet owners come to terms with the loss of their pet, Direct Line Pet Insurance has set up a pet bereavement helpline for its policyholders. We have helped hundreds of pet owners talk through their loss.

"These callers need a great deal of understanding and compassion shown to them and often call back on more than one occasion, even many weeks after their loss."


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