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Death of beloved pet? Say goodbye in Cats Classified

Sunday Times' Pets Corner will provide grieving owners a section for their tributes.  This story originally appeared in The Straits Times on Saturday, Dec 8, 2012.

Published on Dec 15, 2012 3:09 PM
 
A new pets' obituary section in the classifieds will allow pet owners pay tribute to their recently departed pets. Tributes up to 30 words are free, subject to space, while a tribute including a picture and up to 60 words will cost $50. -- PHOTO: COURTESY OF CATS CLASSIFIED

IT'S a chance to say goodbye to a beloved furry friend.

From next Sunday, grieving pet owners will have a new way to help them cope with their loss when The Sunday Times starts a new pet obituary section.

In a first for the paper, The Sunday Times Cats Classified section will now devote space for "in memoriam" ads for pets. The section will be a part of Pets Corner, a weekly feature.

Tributes of up to 30 words are free, subject to space availability. Owners who prefer a longer tribute and guaranteed placement can pay $50 for an obituary of up to 60 words and a picture.

"More and more, we are getting requests from pet owners who want to remember their pets which have passed away, and want to tell the stories of their pets," said Cats Classified vice-president Tan Su-Lin.

"Pet lovers have the kind of deep, emotional bonds they have forged with their pets and we want to give them a platform to express this in print."

The number of pets owned by Singaporeans has been increasing steadily over the past decade.

There are now about 58,000 registered dogs here, up from about 51,000 in 2007 and 35,000 in 2001, according to figures from the Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority.

Animal trainers here have also seen a rise in owners showering more attention on their pets.

"In the old days, whatever we eat - that's what the dog eats. Now, owners don't just buy dog food, they also buy dog supplements and they are willing to spend not just on food but also on training," said Mr Silvanus Koh, 43, a certified trainer and owner of Merlion K-9 dog training school. "There is definitely a market for pet obituaries."

Mr Koh added that while in the past, the dogs he used to train tended to be larger breeds like German shepherds, rottweilers and mastiffs, today he sees many more smaller dogs such as golden retrievers, cocker spaniels and shih tzus. He estimates these days he trains up to 40 dogs a year, up from about 25 dogs just four years ago.

Pet owners reacted warmly to the new service.

Ms Danielle Ong, 24, an accounts manager working in advertising, owns a two-year-old Corgi named Ninja.

She said: "It's a good alternative for pet lovers and another outlet for them to grieve. A print obituary can serve as a keepsake, something you can hold onto. You will see a lot of pet owners posting."

Ms Pearly Yong, 32, who owns five chinchillas, agreed. The senior medical technologist recalled how sad she felt four years ago, when a six-day-old baby chinchilla named Kisses died in her father's arms. "Perhaps it will help with the grieving process, sharing their stories with other people," said Ms Yong.

Besides the new obituary section, the weekly Pets Corner feature has a pet adoption column used by the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA), House Rabbit Society of Singapore, Action for Singapore Dogs, and Animal Lovers League.

Cats Classified also has a lost and found section that offers animal groups free space to post information about animals handed over to them. The SPCA posts around 500 notices of animals every year.

The inaugural issue featuring tribute messages will be published next Sunday.

Anyone who wishes to send a free tribute to his pet can write a message of not more than 30 words at www.cats.com.sg/petstribute

yanliang@sph.com.sg