Where furry friends rest in peace

When animal activist Amritika Phool’s three-legged cat Stapu passed away a month ago she headed to a green patch in Noida to give a dignified burial to her furry friend.

Unfortunately, this wasn’t Phool’s first trip to Society for Prevention of Cruelty Against Animals’ (SPCA) burial ground. She had been there before to bury Nawab, another furry friend.

Like Phool, plenty of pet lovers are heading to SPCA, or other designated spaces on the outskirts of the capital earmarked by animal organisations such as Friendicoes, Jeevashram, Sanjay Gandhi Animal Care Centre and Sai Ashram.

Far from the hustle and bustle of the city, scores of pets are resting in peace at SPCA’s green patch. Plaques with epitaphs adorn the graves of some of the pets.

 “In dearest memory of our son Caesar: We miss you Bete” reads one epitaph hanging on a tree guard. Another says: “Our dear Buddy is resting here.”

“It is such a wonderful feeling to be able to go to SPCA and visit the graves of my furry babies. When Nawab died they were kind enough to hold a night time burial. Some of the dogs stand and watch as though participating in your grief,” said Phool, who has rescued many cats and dogs in Delhi.

These organisations charge a fee of Rs 1,500 to Rs 3,000 per burial depending on the size of the pet. SPCA also has the option of cremating the pet. Ajaydeep Singh, who runs ‘The Voice of Voiceless’, an NGO for animals, has also made several trips to SPCA.

“I was there to bury a St Bernard some time ago. I have to make such trips often because I give home to a lot of sick and abandoned dogs,” Singh said

For most pet lovers dealing with the loss of a pet is not easy. Senior psychologist Dr Aruna Broota says the number of people unable to cope with the passing away of their pets is on the rise.

“I have been counseling a middle-aged lady who lost her dog three months ago. She has buried the dog in her backyard and is unable to get over the loss. Losing a pet is akin to losing a family member. Humans cannot give the unconditional love that a pet can,” she said.

Dr Broota also has a 10-year-old child seeking help to get over the trauma of losing his dog. “I have advised the child to adopt another dog. Children usually agree to this, but not adults. Adults fear going through the same experience all over again,” she added.

Set up by Maneka Gandhi over 30 years ago, Sanjay Gandhi Animal Care Centre, Asia’s largest facility for city’s homeless and sick animals, also offers pet lovers a place for animals who have crossed the rainbow bridge.

“We understand the grief of losing a companion animal. SGACC offers one of Delhi’s only burial grounds for animals. Our caring staff provides burial services for pets in a quiet secluded part of the premises. Graves are freshly dug and the animal laid to rest in the presence of the owner. A fee is charged for this service. SGACC clients are entitled to a reduced fee,” reads a note on the centre’s website.

The organisation also encourages pet lovers to adopt another animal because the best way to remember your pet is to open your heart and home to another and relive the joy of sharing and caring.

Jeevashram, an animal welfare organisation set up in 1990, has a neatly manicured “garden of eternal peace” for pets because most people in Delhi do not have access to a garden where a pet can be buried. Often pet lovers go back to the burial ground to plant saplings or to spend time at the memorial when they miss their pet too much.

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