Spending Eternity With Your Pets

by MSO
The entrance to the hartsdale Pet Cemetery in NY with open gate and tombstones in distance

Hartsdale Pet Cemetery has been burying pets with their human family members since the 1920s.

The practise of being buried with animals is not a new concept, it has been a large part of Egyptian burial rituals for centuries. Egyptians believed that animals shared the same after life as humans, it was very common to be buried with their mummified cats, monkeys and birds. In England, Anglo-Saxon nobility and warriors were buried with their horses. In New Mexico, thousands of prehistoric dogs have been found in graves with their masters as it was believed that dogs were the divine escorts into the next world. As Christianity became more prominent however, burial with pets was frowned upon by the church as only humans were believed to have souls.

Today more people want to have their furry friends accompany them to the grave and government and cemeteries now have to decide where they stand on the subject.

The Hartsdale Pet Cemetery and Crematory established in 1896 in Hartsdale, New York is the oldest of its kind in the United States. Though families have had their ashes interred into the graves of their pets there since the 1920s, legislators put a stop to it in 2011 when one woman wanted her uncle buried beside his wife and three dogs. The woman lobbied the government and with help from Hartsdale Pet Cemetery and numerous other supporters New York state law was changed in 2013 to make pet and human burial in pet cemeteries possible. More US states have begun passing similar legislation.

Though many US states allow pets to be buried in family plots, sharing a single grave with a pet in a human cemetery is not allowed (Although many a pet’s urn has been slipped into the casket of their deceased human family member). Despite the fact that more than 60% of American households live with pets, there are still many people who don’t fancy lying next to someone’s pet for eternity and many don’t even like the fact that animals and humans are sometimes cremated in the same crematory. Cemeteries will have to tread softly as they explore new options which include the possibility of adding special sections to cemeteries where pets and their human families can be buried together.

If you wish to be buried with a deceased pet the first step is to speak to your local funeral home. They can let you know what your state’s laws are and will be able to direct you to a cemetery that will accommodate your wishes. Today there are only about 600 pet cemeteries in the United States, though that number is growing exponentially. Though your state may allow burial with your pet it still remains up to the city and county governments to allow burial with pets and not all of the pet cemeteries are willing to bury humans in their cemeteries.

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