What do I do with a dead dog?

A couple of weeks ago my wife went away for a few days and left me in charge of the house and her dog.  Now I never liked that dog from the start.  In fact I have been quietly waiting for the bugger to die ever since we bought our house and my wife announced that he would come and live with us (he had previously been living with my parents-in-law).

He was 19 which is very old in doggy years apparently.  I suspect he was hanging on deliberately just to keep crapping all over the garden and generally annoying me.

Anyway, this left me with the problem of what to do with a dead dog.  Having duly informed my wife of the situation she was quite upset and therefore said I had to ‘deal with it’ before she got back.  That gave me two days time.

Now I have never had to deal with a dead dog before so I wasn’t too sure what to do.  I mean, what do you do with a dead dog?  My first thought was to go to a vet because back home in London I would have expected a vet either to take the body or know of someone or somewhere that would.  So the next day I went to town and found a vet.  Quite surprisingly the vet said he didn’t have facilities to deal with the dog and couldn’t further advise me.  When I asked him what Polish people normally do with dead animals he gave me that classic Polish look that says “we both know that what people do and what I am allowed to tell you to do are not the same thing” before repeating that he couldn’t further advise me.


So then I decided to drive around town and look for a second vet.  Luckily I found one that was open.  He told me that he also couldn’t help, but had no qualms in telling me that most people just bury their dead pets in the garden.  The idea of that much hard work didn’t appeal to me so my next question was  “how deep?”, imagining myself in the snow with a shovel for the next 4 hours. “About half a metre should do it” was the reply.

Back home I decided to have a quick look on google.pl to see if there was another solution.  I searched for anything I could think of that might help – “zwłoki zwierząt”, “martwy pies”, “krematorium psa” all turned up blanks.  The only thing I found out was that it is against the rules to bury dead dogs in the garden.  Hmmm, that means I had better wait till dark so the neighbours don’t see.  So later on I went outside in the cold and snow and started work with my shovel.  The temperature was -5 degrees and the ground was totally frozen.  I managed a pathetic 5 centimetres before deciding that to continue was just stupid.  I went back in to the house and back on the Internet to look for some sort of inspiration – I now had less than one day before my wife returned and still had a dead (and now totally frozen) dog to deal with.

With google letting me down (or possibly my lack of Polish vocabulary concerning dead animals) I decided a change in strategy was necessary.  I went to the Polish yellow pages at www.pkt.pl and decided to ring every vet in małopolskie until I found one that could help me.  I figured that a 2 hour round-trip by car to Kraków would be better than 6 hours in the snow with a shovel.

On only my second phone call I struck gold.  The kindly and elderly voice on the phone said that there was a company in Osiek near Oświęcim that collected dead pets.  He said he had their phone number on an invoice somewhere.  After a couple of minutes on hold he found their head office number in Warsaw.  I rang them up with excitement.  They gave me the Osiek number.  I rang them up with even more excitement hoping that an end to my problem was drawing near.  What a joy to my ears to hear that yes, they disposed of dead dogs, and that even better – they would come and collect it.  I asked how much this was going to cost me.  Free! Yes, apparently they have an agreement with the local council and this is a free service to residents.  A couple of hours later a huge truck turned up and they relieved me of my frozen four-legged burden.

This got me thinking later – if this is a free and clearly very useful service, how comes nobody seems to know about it?  Surely somebody at the council would have the brainwave to send a notice to all vets in the area that it exists?

Then the cynical part of my brain (that has been living in Poland for too long) came up with the answer.  It’s probably because the council pays for it that nobody knows about it.  Still, I am not going to complain about that.  That’s the reason why in the UK I paid £1,100 a year in council tax and in Poland I pay precisely £0.

Just in case you are reading this with a dead dog outside and your spouse hours away from return, I was going to put the details of the company here, but for the life of me I can’t find them.  They didn’t leave me any paperwork and I didn’t keep their phone number.  I suggest you ring your local gmina to see if they run this service, or start ringing all the vets within a 50 mile radius.  Good luck….

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13 Responses to “What do I do with a dead dog?”

  1. Eva says:

    What an interesting (I’d like to say “funny” but…) story! And written in a fascinating way ;) I am going to read all your posts. I think you are a good writer ;) And it is very interesting and unusual for me to read about Englishman “lost” in Poland :D I am Polish living in the UK :) So… the more you write the better for me! ;)

  2. Andrzej says:

    Eva, Ben is not lost in Poland, not any more than I would be if I was living there. I never bought a house in Poland, applied for a visa or imported a car. And from my little experience of dealing with Polish administration I can tell that speaking Polish is not nearly enough to get things done there.

    It is interesting anyway to see the place with somebody else’s eyes. This article is a good example – I never thought about dead dogs and what to do with their bodies. Perhaps people simply bury them in a forest. But then, with so many dogs around, every forest would look like a dog cemetery, which is not the case.

  3. Eva says:

    Yes, people bury their pets in a forest, or even a park as I did years ago.
    No choice. I have no idea how it is in England and if really everyone calls specialized staff to do it. I rather think that also in England some people bury dogs and cats like in Poland. Am I wrong?

    I wrote LOST in “” – “lost” :) So don’t take it literally :)

  4. Ben says:

    I think if it is a small pet (gerbil, hamster, possibly a cat) then in the UK we might bury them in the garden. But if it’s anything much bigger that would require us to break a sweat digging a hole then we would just let the vet deal with it.

  5. David says:

    Back in UK my young cat misjudged the main road and sadly got hit during the day outside my local pub. I got home after work and the landlord told me what had happened.

    After tracking down the lady who had put my dead cat in a shoebox, I learned she had called the council who had picked it up that day. I decided to reclaim the body so we could bury him on the moors near our house, I called the council who told me the body had already been destroyed (I assume incinerated).

    I think they must have some kind of health and safety policy on animals killed on the road in the UK, since the whole affair was wrapped up in a few hours before I had even got home. Compare that with your canine adventures in Polish bureaucracy!

    The red tape is something I can’t say I’m looking forward to when I make the move over there.

  6. Andy says:

    Well when I was growing up (in the UK), we had numerous pets (about a dozen rabbits, a couple of dogs, numerous hamsters, gerbils and mice) and they all ended up (after an appropriate and much-loved time animate, I should add) under the apple tree at the bottom of our garden. I can’t imagine what a future archaeologist would make of that should they happen across the site – maybe interpret it as some sort of animal sacrifice…

  7. Gosia says:

    Ben, thank you! I know it was not very funny to you to deal with your wife’s dead dog at the time, but your story is written in such a brilliant and funny way, that i had brought tears to my eyes from laughing :)) I can just imagine what my husband (who is English) would do if he had to deal with a dead pet, lol

  8. Ian says:

    Ben – reslly well written and most interesting story – My wife and I were in stiches about it.

    Ian i Gosia

  9. Maya says:

    fantastic !!! I was laughing so much :) Thank you !!!

  10. Lukasz says:

    That was so funny, good story. You had 100 ideas what to do with him, most polish people just one (garden, half meter under grass)

  11. enkidu says:

    Every parliamentary act to become valid required:
    To be approved by Sejm
    To be approved by Senat
    To be signed by Mr President
    Not to be stupid.

    According to great Polish tradition – if the law is silly – You just don’t have to worry about it. You want to bury YOUR OWN dead dog in YOUR OWN garden, but there is a rule that forbid it? Pah…..
    That’s the Polish way.

  12. howard says:


    just moved to gydnia from the uk and in the uk the law now forbids dead animals to be buried

  13. Anonymous says:

    oh man I love your blog especially cos I’m Pole living in UK.
    great sense of humor or is it just polish reality make me laugh ,absolutely great blog ,as native I’d rediscovered all twisted true about Poland and looking on to by your eyes .

    only Brit could heal my high fewer to my country by giving me English humor on a polish plate.

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