Seriously fitting send-off for pets

Last updated 05:00 19/05/2013
Peter Meecham/Fairfax NZ

If your pet’s popped its clogs, who ya gonna call? Mat and Jane Bogust have started Rest in Pets, making mini coffins.

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Goldfish are flushed unceremoniously down the toilet, rabbits wrapped in old tea towels, and cats squashed into shoeboxes.

The world's pet lovers spend billions of dollars a year pampering the lives of the non-human members of their families but until now there hasn't been a company that looked seriously at what to do when that life comes to an end.

Last year, Aucklander Jane Bogust had a friend whose much-loved guinea pig died. The friend wanted to give her pet a fitting send-off but the only thing she could find was an old tea box.

Jane thought there must be something better than that out there. There wasn't.

Luckily, her husband, Mat, was a cardboard packaging engineer who spent his days coming up with innovative solutions to companies' packaging problems. Rest in Pets was born.

The result, after a year of prototypes and business incubators, was a cardboard, biodegradable product that allows families to give their pet the send-off they deserve.

"It's also about shedding light on a sad situation and, especially with children, allowing a conversation to take place where parents can talk about death in a constructive way," Jane said.

The product comes in four sizes, including an urn, that pops up from folded cardboard. Parents and children can draw their own personal messages on the product. Mat said it created an experience around the death of a loved pet.

More than two-thirds of New Zealand households own a pet and spend about $1.6 billion a year on them - a tiny fraction of the estimated $50 billion industry in the United States.

It's the international scene the pair, who brought the idea to fruition while Jane was pregnant with their second child, also want to tap into.

They have a product ready for the market but are seeking a final boost to help with production on crowd funding site Kickstarter.

"I think we are filling a gap in the market," Mat said. "It's an affordable and attractive option that won't break the bank."

Jane said the process of starting up a company had at times been stressful with the growth of their young family but they always tried to keep a positive attitude.

"Mat and I work really well together and, with the amount of support we have had, we really think we can make this work."

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