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What are my choices when my pet dies?

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We hope this week's reader question is not too uncomfortable for you, but we thought the subject would be of real interest, despite being a little unhappy.

Melanie wants to know what happens with a dog when he or she dies. Is there a cemetery for pets or any public place in the UAE where your pets can be buried in a way that befits your feelings for them? Are there any authorities who can help?

Well, some of you will be satisfied with the news; some of you will find it upsetting that more is not being done.

As it stands, the only authorities to help you with this would be your veterinarian or the Veterinary Section of the Municipal government in your city. In fact, your own vet can help you fully, so we would recommend going to them, and you may indeed have to because, to the best of our knowledge, there are absolutely no dedicated pet cemeteries in this country (nor in this region, we suspect).

So this leaves you with the following options when your pet dies:

  • Burial:
    Our understanding is that this is actually not legal here, but we do know that some people definitely find an informal, personally chosen spot they feel good about and do bury their pets. It's a difficult course to recommend, so we won't, even though we understand the inclination. We imagine that most, if not all vets will generally discourage doing this because it is illegal.
  • Medical Disposal:
    All the veterinary clinics in the UAE have contracts with companies that handle medical disposal of dead animals. It's not a nice thought, we know, but animals are buried in landfills in Jebel Ali. If your pet dies and you leave him or her with your vet without any further specific instruction, this is how things will be done.
  • Cremation:
    Through your vet you can have your pet cremated, either with a group of other animals which have died, each in separate compartments within the crematorium, or individually where the entire crematorium is devoted to your pet. Either way, you then can get your pet's ashes returned to you. There are obviously cost implications with these choices, but of course many do feel very happy that these avenues are open to them.

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