Dogs are man’s best friends. They can keep you company for only ten to twenty years, but that might be its whole life. How to give these lovely fellows a dignified farewell to the world? Nowadays there is an emerging industry called “pet’s hospice care” can offer you this kind of service.
There are six such organizations in Hong Kong. Normally the service includes 24-hour collection of pet bodies and refrigeration and disinfection of the body. Pet owners may attend the individual cremation and say the last good-bye to their pets. And then, souvenirs ordering service and pet memento storage service can be provided.
Located in pacific Trade Centre, Pets’ heaven is the largest one of the six pet’s hospice care organizations. They also have branches in Tuen Mun, Yau Ma Tei and Causeway Bay. Cremation urns are placed on the shelves peacefully, with toys and food around. Except dog, cat, rabbit and bird, there are also some other kinds of animal such as snake, turtle, fish and lizard. Pets’ heaven can offer you a variety of service at different price level, ranging from HKD800-2500. “Some pet owners put the cremation here and come to see it once in a while, but most of them choose to bring it home or scatter it to the sea,” said Kelvin, a staff of Pet’s Heaven.
Pet’s Heaven was established in 1999 by Mr. K. K. Chan. There used to be official animal crematorium in Sai Wan in the past. After the return of Hong Kong to China, the government system was reorganized and many departments were cancelled. In year 1999, the animal crematorium failed to operate any more. As an animal lover, Mr. Chan felt very sad about it, and thought of his experience in Canada. Mr. Chan moved to Canada in 1993, and happened to see a dog of his relative passed away. Then he began to know that there was such kind of pet’s hospice care industry in some foreign countries. Why not introduce this kind of service to Hong Kong? At that time, Mr. Chan had no mature business model to learn from, everything should start from zero. He used his HKD300000 saving as initial capital, and established Pets’ heaven. After 13 years’ hard work, Pets’ Heaven became the largest pet’s hospice care organizations in Hong Kong, and Mr. Chan himself also won many prizes such as the “Ten Creative Entrepreneurs of The Year”.
Pet’s hospice care is not a very profitable industry. Since the number of dead pet is limited, there would not be a big demand in the market. User viscosity is also very low since it is almost impossible to develop a “second order” through good service. According to Mr. Chan, revenue of the four branches of Pets’ Heaven was eight million in total last year, but the profit was only several hundred thousand. The reason was due to a low demand and a high cost, mostly the labor cost and logistic cost. Since the equipments and storeroom will cost a lot, the scale effect is very typical in this industry. The financial situation of Pets’ Heaven is above average level, and many other competitors are still in a struggle. “My original intention is to help those people who lost their loved ones instead of earning money. This remains unchanged,” said Mr. Chan.
There is no special marketing department or promoting strategy of Pets’ heaven. They spent little money on advertising, relying on word of mouth and their website instead. “We want to serve you heart and soul, hoping that you can tell you friends and give us the opportunity to work for them,” said Mr. Chan. Mr. Wong, a dog keeper used to have a cat. The cat died ten years ago and Mr. Wong let a pet hospital to dispose the body. This cost him HKD1000. “I don’t know there is such kind of professional pet’s hospice care service at that time,” said Mr. Wong. But now he has a basic knowledge about it after seeing in the pet forum and searching on the internet. He said he would try it after this dog’s death.
The Tender Loving Creatures is another pet’s hospice care organization in Hong Kong. It is the third year of the organization and their scale is much smaller than the Pets’ Heaven. “I believe we are still losing money,” said Willie the staff, “since the machine is expensive and it needed to be maintained.” Willie came to work here because he loves animals, and this is also the case of most the staffs who work here. They usually keep pets at home, and can totally understand how it hurt when a pet passed away.
“What we offer is not a way of disposing, but a kind of concern,” said Mr. Chan.