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.
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?
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.