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Dignity in death for four-legged friends must be ensured: Pet lovers Dignity in death for four-legged friends must be ensured: Pet lovers

Jan-16-2015 | 0 Comments

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PUNE: "I was heartbroken when my German Shepherd died of old age a year back. But what made it worse was the fact that there was no facility in Pune where I could put my 13-year-old friend to rest," says Rashmi S Waghmode.

Finally, it was Waghmode's relatives who came to her rescue. "My brother-in-law has a farmhouse on the outskirts and he offered that we could bury Washoe there," she says.

Mumbai, Bangalore and New Delhi all have a dedicated crematorium for pets, but Pune still lags behind. This apparent lacuna in pet care is what motivated city veterinary doctor Shantanu Kalambi to set up a funeral service exclusively for pets. The month-old service that operates from Baner promises to give your loving pets the final rest that they deserve.

"I started the Woof Wagon a couple of months ago when I saw that most pets in the city were either buried in people's yards or disposed off in the trash. The latter, is still being carried out by a large number of people who aren't able to find a suitable option for their pets. I found this fact rather disturbing," says Kalambi.

The organisation currently utilises Pimpri Chinchwad Municipal Corporation's 'Chirantan' facilities and a plot of land outside the city to bury the pets it gets from Pune and Pimpri Chinchwad.

"We are in the process of setting up an incinerator for cremations but can arrange for wood-fired cremations. Our charges include costs for pick-up and transport, burial/cremation, overnight mortuary facility and return of ashes," says Kalambi.

Though the service hours last from 8am to 7pm, the facility possesses a small refrigerated mortuary to handle animals that have passed away in the night and have them interred the next day. Pick-ups are carried out by a dedicated ambulance and Kalambi personally. Also, ashes of cremated pets are returned to their owners in customised urns and customised tombstones and memorial articles can also be arranged on request.

Another veterinarian who decided to assist pet lovers to lay their darlings to a peaceful rest is Babasaheb Kalapure, who has his clinic in Vimannagar.

Kalapure is associated with a non-governmental organisation, Animal Farm, that not only arranges cremation for pets, but also provides emergency shelter and medical care. The facility has been functioning for the last five-six years.

"Pune has at least 40,000-50,000 pet dogs and almost 10,000-15,000 cats. Naturally along with medical facilities and the like, proper funeral facility is also the need of the hour," says Kalapure.

"I have always had a pet. The lifespan of pets unfortunately is not very long. We have two dogs, a whole lot of fish and a pair of rabbits. Whenever we have lost our pets, we have buried them in our backyard. In fact, my son insists on burying the fish too," says pet lover Nitish Bankar.

But not everyone is as lucky as Bankar to boast of a backyard. Many like Waghmode are reduced to relying on helpful friends and family.

"We desperately need a well-organised funeral service for pets. Pune is so dog-friendly. There are so many vets here doing extraordinary work for pets. I don't understand why we lack in a basic funeral arrangement?" says Bankar.

There is currently no means of conducting burials or cremations for pets within the Pune municipal limits. The Pune civic body is in the process of setting up an incinerator for large animals. The present incinerator is in a state of disuse and has been unused since the carcass utilisation plant where it was located was shut down about a year back. The Pimpri Chinchwad civic body on the other hand has a functional cemetery but no incineration facility despite having an incinerator on site.

"Given the lack of available land for even the most basic public utilities, burial seems to be an unsustainable and short-term option. Both the Pune and the Pimpri Chinchwad civic bodies need to find a long-term solution such as an appropriate cremation facility for pets alongside the issue of large animal carcass disposal," says Kalambi.

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