The veterinarian had diagnosed depression in the 18-month-old cat.
One stormy day, the sound of thunder and lightning frightened Bim so much that he jumped from the third floor and unfortunately died.
After losing his pet, Huy was devastated and wanted him cremated so he could have the ashes to remember him by.
“I considered Bim as my own child, and so of course I want a proper funeral,” says the 27-year-old from Hoc Mon district.
About 45 minutes later, a funeral service worker was there, offered condolences to Huy and took Bim away.
After a while, Huy received photos of Bim cleaned, dried, swaddled in white cloth and placed on a tray decorated with yellow chrysanthemums and candles.
The “funeral” lasted 15 minutes, after which Bim was taken to be cremated.
Huy paid 2 million VND (82 US dollars) for this service.
Six hours later, he received an urn containing Bim’s ashes. He placed it and Bim’s bowl on a wooden platform hanging in a corner of his room as a memorial.
An urn with the ashes of her cat Bim in Hung Huy’s house in Hoc Mon district, HCMC, September 2023. Photo by VnExpress/ Ngoc Ngan
The pet funeral service Huy uses opened three years ago, but only became known this year.
Pet funeral services have become a necessity as more and more Vietnamese acquire pets and consider them a member of their family.
At the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, the pet industry boomed, reaching the second-fastest growth rate in Southeast Asia, according to market research firm iPrice.
The boom also triggered a surge in related services.
How to deal with dead animals is also a problem that needs to be resolved in cities, which generally do not have enough land to bury them.
Ho Dac Trung, owner of a pet funeral service in Thu Duc town, says that in the past, pet owners in HCMC had two ways to dispose of their dead pets: throwing them into a landfill or take them to the Binh Hung Hoa cremation center. in Binh Tan district.
But these days, pet funeral services are becoming their first choice, he says.
A quick survey by VnExpress found that around six centers offered this service, with cremation a common option at prices ranging from VND1 million to VND4 million depending on the weight of the dead animal.
Trung says demand for the service has increased by 30% since January this year, with customers typically aged 25 to 35.
His center receives 35 to 40 requests per week.
The service includes traveling to the owner’s home to collect the animal’s corpse, organizing the funeral (on request) and cremation (with the possibility of collecting the ashes), and the price varies from 540,000 VND to 2.9 million VND.
The Trung center generally takes in cats and dogs who have died of old age or following an accident. They are cleaned with alcohol and dried to prepare for the funeral. The animal’s paws are dipped in ink to make prints on paper, and part of its fur and claws are cut off as a memento of its owner.
Funerals generally last 15 to 30 minutes. The name of the animal and the day of its death are written on a board. Trung then sets up a camera to record the reading of the owner’s eulogy if it is provided and wishes for him to rest in peace.
The owners are usually absent from funerals and watch the proceedings on videos or photos.
Tran Sinh, director of the Pet Service Training Academy in HCMC, cites a report from the Pet Fair Asia organization which states that in 2021, the pet care industry in Southeast Asia was worth nearly 4 billion of dollars.
Vietnam accounts for 13% of that figure, or $500 million, and its market is growing at 11% per year, he says.
The habit of throwing animal carcasses into ponds, lakes and other bodies of water has an impact on the environment and people’s health, especially if the animal is suffering from a communicable disease, underlines -he.
Pet funerals are not only a solution to this problem, but also demonstrate the compassion of their owners.
But authorities must monitor funeral businesses to ensure they are complying with environmental laws and regulations for disposing of dead animals.
Cremation is considered the most appropriate option when dealing with large animals. In September this year, Le Ha, 44, living in District 12, was distraught but also confused when her 35kg Rottweiler named Shadow was dying.
She says: “It weighed a lot and there was nowhere to bury it in the city. I couldn’t bring myself to take it to a dump. Plus, it’s illegal.”
The vet told him to try a funeral service.
A pot with Shadow’s fur, his cremation certificate and his urn in Le Ha’s house, district 12, HCMC, September 2023. Photo by VnExpress/ Ngoc Ngan
Ha called them as soon as Shadow died around 1am. The funeral cost her 3 million VND and she received a jar containing Shadow’s fur and claws as well as his ashes the next day.
Every now and then, she would scroll through photos and videos of Shadow and take comfort in knowing that he had been taken care of until his very last breath on earth.
Trung agreed to the funeral of Miu and Luc, two dogs who died of electrocution in the town of Thu Duc.
Although the family was not wealthy, they chose his services because they believed the dogs saved their lives.
Huynh Thuy, a 29-year-old woman living in District 12, says she paid VND1.5 million for the funeral of her cat Mit, who was by her side for a year and helped comfort her .
On the day of Mit’s death, an employee confirmed a pickup time over the phone and consoled Thuy by telling him that his cat had “completed its mission” and died peacefully.
“I always want to keep the happiest memories of Mit, even if Mit is no longer with me,” she says.