Chennai's Blue Cross has its own farewell for furry friends with dual-chambered gasifier crematorium
The month-old pet crematorium at Blue Cross of India has been assuring a dignified send-off, offering a sense of solace to pet parents
On a grey Wednesday afternoon, a silver Volkswagen sped into the Blue Cross of India campus in Guindy. A staff member rushed out with a stretcher, lifted a deceased pet and carried it to the crematorium within the premises. The pet parents waited for a few minutes as another cremation was under process.
When it was their 19-year-old Rottweiler Diesel's turn, the mourning family bid farewell to him as he was put to rest. "He was extremely old, and developed tick fever recently. His kidney and liver stopped functioning because of that. This morning, on our way back after giving his blood for a test, he passed away inside the car. Dad wanted to bury him at his office but we wanted to opt for cremation; a rather dignified option," shared this Perungudi resident requesting anonymity.
Inaugurated by corporation commissioner Gagandeep Singh Bedi and L Ganesh, chairman of Chennai Willingdon Corporate Foundation (CWCF) on October 30, the dual-chambered gasifier crematorium has been witnessing many such painful goodbyes. "We've been cremating around three pet dogs and six or seven shelter dogs since day one. The smaller chamber is for cats and can accommodate one dog; the bigger one can accommodate seven dogs up to 100 kg. Sometimes the leash, accessories and toys used by the dogs are also burnt along with it," details Velu TM, operations manager, Blue Cross of India.
"Three operators perform the cremation - each lasting about two hours. There's a shrine behind the facility that allows pet parents to perform their last rites. Some put a garland, smear sandal paste and pray. We either hand over the ashes in an urn on request or use it as manure in our lawns. As of now, parents bring their dead pets. Strays and abandoned pets are brought by either well-wishers or our staff during rescues," Velu adds.
The lack of pet crematoriums in other parts of the city has been bringing distressed pet parents from far and near to Guindy. Aravind, a Kalpakkam resident, had to drive down 70 km for his two-year-old Rajapalayam Mauna's treatment and cremation amid the torrential downpour.
"Mauna had hearing problems. She recently developed tick fever and had a seizure. I brought her to a hospital and she died while under treatment. I have three other pets, including Mauna's mother, and it's going to be an irreplaceable void," shares Aravind, who has been lighting a lamp in front of Mauna's photo as part of the Hindu rituals.
"Every time I perform a puja for Mauna, her mother drops by to see her photo. I was also touched when the operator handed over the ashes in an urn to me after a prayer. I’m constructing a new house and Mauna’s ashes will be sprinkled there," he says.
The grief of this loss is not unknown to the staff at Blue Cross of India, who have been supportive of pet parents like Samyuktha, who lost her 16-year-old Dachshund, Toffee. "Toffee died of old age when Chennai was fighting a heavy rainfall. She passed away after 6 pm, but the crematorium services are available only till 5 pm. Upon request, the staff kept her body in a freezer and she was cremated the following day. If not for this option, we wouldn't have known what to do with the body. We went for her last rites as a family, offered some flowers, and prayed," recalls the Anna Nagar resident.
A goodbye to remember
For Niranjan Sharma and his family, watching their 19-year-old Pomeranian, Golu, suffer from old age was exhausting. "He didn't eat, play or move. He kept crying all day. Seeing him struggle so much, we decided to part ways upon the advice of people at Blue Cross. My parents were too vulnerable to make it to the final rites but I was there until the process was complete," he shares.
The crematorium ensures safe disposal with its environment-friendly measures. Built at a total cost of around Rs 50 lakh and sponsored by the CWCF, the set-up has a 100-ft chimney stack in case a small quantity of smoke needs to be released.
"Essco Furnaces Private Limited has supplied the furnace facilties. The smoke from the cremation undergoes a five-step treatment process to make it environment-friendly and reduce the smell usually associated with it," shares Velu.
Aravind informs, "With more pets coming in, it would be wiser to have electric cremation that's much faster. But, cremation is any day better than burial. People have told me that the state of burial grounds is pathetic. This facility is a godsend for us and we need more of them."
A plan for small animals
The Chennai Corporation also has plans to open a dedicated crematorium for small animals in either Kannamapettai or Tondiarpet. Meanwhile, pet owners across the city can cremate their pets here for a fee of Rs 2,500. The crematorium is open from 9 am to 5 pm.
For details, visit bit.ly/animalcremation