For most people the death of a pet can cause much pain and sorrow and can be like losing a member of your family. Pet owners often want a way to repay their dog’s loyalty by giving them a nice send off.
Pet cemeteries are one option available to people but these are expensive with plots costing around €500 and the islands only pet crematorium is in Belfast. Pets can be buried on private land as long as the grave is far from water and it is at least 1.25 metres below the surface.
A nomination at this year’s Student Enterprise Awards, which took place in Croke Park, may well have come up with a solution. Peffins was established in October 2013 by students from St Columba’s secondary school, Stranolar, Co Donegal.
“One evening I was chatting to a close family friend whose pet had died a couple of weeks before,” says the company’s 16-year-old managing director Conor McBride. “They were looking around our local area here for something to bury their dog in and there was nothing.”
Conor and his four colleagues, Carl Dunnion, Shaun Sweeney, Darren Bonner and Oisin O’Brien, conducted market research on 500 pet owners in the area and discovered that 70% would be interested in buying coffins, or ‘peffins’, for their pets should they become available.
With the help of their teacher and mentor MS Harkin the boys put their research into action and started to build the peffins in school as part of their woodwork class.
“I certainly thought it was a head-turning idea,” she says.
“I knew people were going to look at it anyway. It wasn’t really being done here, though there is one man in Donegal who uses cardboard, I think.
“But as the boys will tell you that’s not very good if you’ve got a big labrador to bury.
“I thought the idea was very hands on, so it was a perfect project for the class.
“They had to research it, they had to make it, market it and the idea was always going to create a bit of attention for them anyway.”
The wooden coffins are made using medium-density fibre-board (MDF) and the interior is padded with recycled materials which can include newspaper or cardboard. Peffins offer an extra small — for gerbils — small, medium and large coffins for pets and their aim is to help you “say goodbye to your pet with respect and love”.
Large coffins for big and medium-sized dogs cost €40, which Conor says gives the company a mark-up of between 20% and 25%.
When suggested that the boys could charge a lot more for these peffins the boys admirably state that grief is no place for greedy capitalism.
You can contact the boys on their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/Peffins?ref=ts&fref=ts