Can my pet be buried with me? USA and UK discussed
Can my pet be buried with me? This is a question I had asked myself since long before I lost my dog Dreyfuss in September. Have any of you asked yourself this question?
My daughter Laura thinks I’m crazy because when I die, I want the cremated remains of my dog Dreyfuss to be buried with me. Should I have a standard burial, I want his urn placed in my casket. If I decide to be cremated, I want our ashes mixed together.
I did a little research and found I’m not alone in how I feel. There’s an article in the Denver Post in which it is said that the International Association of Pet Cemeteries and Crematories estimate that a quarter of pet cemeteries in the U.S. will accept human remains.
Hartsdale Pet Cemetery is located twenty miles north of Manhattan. Hartsdale boasts to be the oldest at 115 years old and has the remains of 700 people who have joined their pets. An estimated 75,000 pets are buried here. At the time of the Denver Post article in February 2011, the cemetery charged a fee of $235 to open a pets grave and add the human remains. The scattering of human ashes on a pets grave isn’t allowed.
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The article also features the story of a cat lover who wants to be cremated and her ashes divided between the graves of her cats.
Hartsdale Pet Cemetery has offered the burial of human remains since 1950, so the idea isn’t new.
The New York Department of State is divided on whether this practice should be allowed. There’s no law stating the cremated remains of a human can’t be buried with a pet. There’s also no law stating they can. Hartsdale charges a perpetual care fee should a human want to join their pet.
Other pet cemeteries, like the Los Angeles Pet Memorial Park, won’t allow it humans to join their pets.
There’s more of a legal issue of a pet being buried in a cemetery for humans. From what I’ve read on this, it’s a big no-no. A pet would have to be secretly placed in the casket or other sneaky business to have a human and their cremated pet buried together. I can see it now. My daughter Laura having to sneak the urn with my dogs ashes into my casket before the lid is shut for burial. I’m not sure I could talk her into that scenario. I wonder what the punishment is if someone is caught doing this?
RELATED: Deceased owner’s will stated that her pet should die and be buried with her
I personally don’t see the big deal here. The Egyptians were known for having their favorite cats interred with them. Of course, that was a case of the cat having to die because the person who cherished the cat died.
When I began this article, I thought it the most off-the-wall topic I’ve ever written on. I’m the first to admit I’ve written on some strange subjects these past two years. Michael (PoC) humors me on the topics I choose. Now that I find I’m not alone in my final wishes, I feel a bit better. Not only about my sanity, but in not being alone in how I feel about a beloved pet.
I had originally planned to write this article to ask the readers whether they had thought of having the cremated remains of their pet buried with them. Laura thinks I’m strange for even suggesting this. Now I also want to know if you would go so far as to turn your back on being buried in a cemetery for humans and opt to join your pet in a pet cemetery. Or would you prefer to have your ashes as well as the ashes of your pet scattered in a favorite place you used to visit together? And do you think government agencies should be able to decide this matter? Should cemeteries dictate the protocol for this. After all, we’re paying them a fee for a plot, including perpetual care if required.
I can’t wait to see the comments on this one!
Additional information provided by MikeB
UK – can I have my ashes scattered with my pet?
Human crematoriums and cemeteries in the UK normally do not allow the burial or scattering of pet ashes along with the ashes of their owner. Apparently this is because a pet’s ashes are classified as ‘waste’ (out of date concept clearly). They require a separate licence via the Environment Agency. However, a crematorium for humans or cemetery can apply to also be a pet cemetery. As I understand it, under these circumstances the question in the heading can be answered with a “yes”.
One pet crematorium, DIGNITY, does offer a service in which an owner’s ashes can be scattered or interred alongside their companion animal.
UK – Buried in your back garden
In the UK, a human can be buried in their back garden if they so desire. It is totally legal. Further, it is legal to bury your pet in the grounds of your home where they lived without the need for permission or planning consent. Therefore under these circumstances, on my assessment, an owner and their companion animal can be buried together.
USA – burying your deceased pet in your backyard
In most US states it is legal to bury pets in the backyard. Many states have rules and regulations which you must follow before you do this. Perhaps the wise thing to do is to telephone the relevant state authority to make sure that you follow the law.
USA – owner and pet buried together
There’s an article online dated March 4, 2022, which, therefore, is fairly current (and the website looks reliable: Elder Law Answers), which says that most US states specifically prohibit companion animals and humans being buried together or they have no law governing that situation. However, an increasing number of US states are adopting laws which allow some form of combined burial.
For example, in 2016 New York state created a law which allows the ashes of companion animals to be buried with their owners. Religious cemeteries are exempt and other cemetery can opt out. In New Jersey they allow the ashes of a human to be buried with a pet but it has to be in a pet cemetery which is similar to what I’ve mention above for the UK.
Clearly, the matter is quite complicated and variable across the states. The only advice here can be to enquire directly.
I’ve left instructions that when I die, I wish to be cremated and the ashes of all my beloved companions will be mixed with mine and scattered in the wilderness. That way we will at least do some good for our earth. I don’t think there is any reason to take up space in a crowded graveyard, when there is so little of nature left.
I lost the last of my 4 little Yorkie dogs i November 2015 and I had each one of them cremated at a local pet crematorium and there ashes were each in a pine casket which I have now transferred there ashes inside a teddy bear which I have on my bed which they all slept on with me when alive.I would love to have there ashes in my coffin when I get cremated because they were my life and I loved them dearly.I phoned a funeral parlour yesterday and was told because of cross contamination I would be better to leave instructions with whichever funeral directors looked after me when I pass to collect my dogs ashes so they could put them with mine.I feel very unsure about doing this though.
Hi Linda. Thanks for commenting. I am perplexed by the funeral parlour referring to “cross contamination”. What do they mean? I don’t see any reason why your teddy bear can’t be placed in your coffin. Alternatively you could ask your executors to mix your ashes after cremation with the ashes of your dogs inside the teddy bear. Both sets of ashes could be placed in a casket. Then that mix could be distributed per your further instructions.
My Cat Molly died last Sunday and I have her ashes and want to put her ashes in my casket when I eventually pass away , I also want to have her name on my plauge what day that I was born and the day that I pass away I feel lost without her.
Hi Geoff. Thanks for sharing. I am exactly like you on this issue.
i EXPECT TO SPEND ETERNITY TOGETHER WITH MY TWO LITTLE YORKIES.
Me too. I have the ashes of my cats in an urn. When I die I want my ashes to be placed with the ashes of my cats so that I can be together with them forever. Thanks for commenting.
I am so glad to find this article and the posts. My little buddy died on 9-5-2014. I have had pets for over 60 years and loved them all. But Taffy was extraordinarily special to me. He was a flame-point Himalayan and still looked like a kitten to me even though he was almost 9 when he died. He had so much hair that a vet tech almost tossed him over her shoulder when picking him up because she expected to be picking up a 16 pd. cat and he was only 7 pd. He walked like a little tank but was absolutely gorgeous. He was almost always a few feet from me no matter where I was in the house. I could pack him around anywhere and he would just drape himself over my arms. I could go on & on about Taffy.
On the morning of 9-2, he wasn’t right there when I was putting his Greenies down and I knew something was wrong. We took him in that day and our vet found on an X-ray that he had very little lung capacity. We took him to a specialist the next day where they did a sonogram and cytology (biopsy). His illness (lung cancer) was very short and I was so distraught about his death I wasn’t thinking clearly. My husband and I buried him in our backyard. It was only after about a month when I started being able to think about him without breaking down that I realized I want his ashes mixed with mine for burial. Since my husband and I are going to have our ashes buried in the cemetery of the tiny town where I was born, I’m not concerned about anyone telling us we can’t – as if it should be anyone else’s business anyway!
I agree with other posts that ground space should be for the living. That’s why my dad’s side of the family are all cremated and the urns are buried 3 to a plot. I want to be buried there because my great-great grandparents, great-grandparents, grandparents, dad, aunts, uncles, great aunts & uncles, and 1st, 2nd & 3rd cousins are buried there. And I don’t believe a one of them would object to sharing ground space with Taffy!
Great, Taffy should be there with you all. He was a fully-fledged family member as important as any other family member. The ashes of all my cats are in an urn in my living room. When I die my ashes will be mixed with theirs. I am yet to decide what happens to the ashes. But I want them all together, mixed and merged so I am with them once again for eternity.
wish i could of done that with cassy but i know and believe we shall met again in rainbow land.
I don’t see what the big deal is either. You pay for your coffin, it’s your….like your car or house. Same thing wirh the plot. Who cares what goes in your coffin….it should be your choice. No one else’s. Four days after my mother was diagnosed with terminal cancer, they had to euthanize their little Maltese. Mom died 7 months later. She was cremated and interred in the wall at Fort Rosecrans, San Diego. Five months later, my brother died unexpectedly. He was cremated with his ashes scattered at sea in front of Pont Loma in view of my mother’s final resting place. Eight months later, my Dad had a stroke. One year to the day, he is in the hospital with a heart attack. Both parents had mentioned that they wanted their little dog Mandys ashes mixed with theirs. Fort Rosecrans said “No”. Why not??? The dog’s ashes wouldn’t be in their urn they bought and no one wohld know unless I told them.
I completely agree with you. I have my cats’ ashes in an casket and they will be mixed with mine. That is important to me. Thanks for sharing.
I’ve already made my son promise me that he will put the cremated remains of my Chewie with me when that time comes. We were together for 15 wonderful years, and I want that for eternity also.
Well said. I want to be buried with my cats’ ashes. I would love to be with them again and see them again. I wish that was possible but I don’t believe it is. It would make me so happy to see my first cat again. Her name was Missie. I still shed a tear when I think of her. She died in 1994.
Cremation us considered final dispensation of remains. I can’t think of any reason a pet’s ashes couldn’t be placed in a casket with someone. Generally, you can do what you want with ashes, but putting then in water requires a permit. They won’t give you a permit, so putting them in water is pretty much out. My late husband was cremated, his ashes buried on land owned by the family. He thought cemeteries were wrong because the earth is for the living, not the dead. He wanted to be cremated, buried, and the spot not marked nor remembered in any way. That way the living go on using that land, never knowing. He didn’t want a stone. He thought a memorial of himself would be conceited and not right. There is a plaque with his name at the EAA museum in Oshkosh. He probably would not have approved, but his EAA chapter went ahead and did it anyway. I used to hate cemeteries, but you do see a lot of wildlife in them. They are a good place for animals because few people go there and if they do, they are quiet. The presence of cemeteries is also a good reminder for the living that we must use our time well, for it is brief.
We sometimes go to visit the Crematorium Garden of Rememberance on our late human loved ones anniversaries, the ashes of one of our grandads, both our parents and Barbara’s husband John were scattered there.
It’s a beautiful place with trees and flowers and there are birds singing and squirrels around, we take seed and nuts with us for them.
It’s a very peaceful place and when our turn comes our ashes will join them there to blow free in the breeze and return to Nature.
Our late pets over our lifetime are together, even though in 2 places, but I like to believe we will all find each other one day through our love for each other.
That’s why where our mortal remains rest isn’t all that important. I think as we run out of land we’ll have to do more scattering of ashes in the US and fewer traditional burials.
I have thought of this very often. My Sedric was sick with diabetes. If I died before him I wanted him euthanized and put in the casket with me. He died on me last month and I wished I had him cremated but I could not afford it. I am still paying the vet for his illness. Oh but I wish had found a way to afford it. I think about it all the time.
I’m so sorry Sylvia. We usually bury our pets but there was no way we could dig a hole for a 100+ pound dog. I’m so glad we did it. Lauras now saying she would want her cat buried with her.
Sedric is at peace now Sylvia and that’s the main thing, it doesn’t matter that you don’t have his ashes, think of him as being free and of your reunion when your time comes.
Of our much loved cats we have lost over the years, some were buried in the garden at our old home, but 3 were cremated since we moved here and their ashes scattered in the Pets Crematorium Garden of Rememberance.
We don’t believe in keeping ashes in urns, neither our human nor our animal family, they are not ours to keep trapped. I know everyone feels diferently about it but it’s our way to set them free and it’s what comforts each of us most that counts.
I dont think it’s off the wall. Its totally natural. I can’t believe ones own burial has to have laws and the such meddling in. Is nothing sacred? Leave us alone. I for one don’t want to have anything to do with paying to be buried somewhere and not bllowed this or that with me in the ground. I’d want to be buried or burn’t and with my cats too. I’m not sure how. Probably I’d want mine and my cat’s ashes to be left somewhere of my choice. When they buried my father there was a policeman standing there telling them certain things couldnt go in the grave with him. He wrote a list of everything in the Tomb – it was in Paris in a tomb actually. No plastic anything. The sad thing was that it’s a cemetery full of tourists because lots of famous people are buried there and anything that gets left on top of a grave is taken right away by people passing by. The whole thing was totally surreal. Anyway, I’m not going in my familly tomb if my cats cant go with my because they are my family. Simple as that.
Why would it matter if items were placed in a casket? It already holds a dead body, for heaven’s sakes, what could anyone put in there that could contaminate a grave? When children died during my years as a teacher, the family always put favorite toys in the coffin with the child. That was really sad. I can remember many adult funerals where items were placed in the coffin. There never was an issue with it.
Some cemeteries here are offering green burials. If say, within 100 years, green burial also means that site is reused for someone else, I’d go that route. Otherwise, cremation is probably best. Just how much land do we want to take from the living and give to the dead, who neither know nor care for anything un thus world anymore? I’ve thought about Monty’s final resting place, but I think I’d just bury him in the back, not cremate him first. He will rest in his back yard, his favorite place in all the world. Let’s hope that’s many years in the future! It doesn’t matter how long he lives. When our time together is over it will have seemed to pass by in a flash and I’ll be sitting there wondering where the time went.
In England in my own town I know that pet ashes have been placed in coffins and buried in cemeteries, as far as I’m aware it’s up to the individual funeral director but it’s customary for families to put bits and pieces, photos, cards, specs, furry toys, even once a mobile phone in with a deceaased so why not beloved ashes? Again in England after cremation the next of kin is perfectly entitled to claim the ashes and take them home to keep, scatter, have made into jewellery or whatever so they could easily be mixed with pet ashes and kept or scattered. Strictly speaking you need permission to scatter ashes on someone’s land but who’s to know if it’s done discreetly? Or you can bury them on your own land if that’s what you want. Personally I like to think of the cremated remains of people and pets being free not contained in urns so I’d go for scattering everytime.
This is a nice subject. Particularly when you get a bit older and a bit morbid like me 🙂 I have the ashes of both my cats in an urn. I intend to be cremated and have my ashes mixed with theirs. I am not sure what will happen after that though! What do you do with ashes? I don’t think people who are living want to have them around do they?
Dreyfuss “sleeps” beside my bed on my night stand. I know of one lady who turned a corner of her home into a pet memorial after having her cats cremated.
My cousin had her husband cremated and scattered his ashes in the flower bed he had tended to. I imagine they had spoke of this. I think a lot of people here keep ashes in their home. Dreyfuss is my first.
I want my dog’s ashes and my 3 cats ashes in my casket and buried in the plot i have with my family.