New York state laws were respectfully adjusted recently in order to eternally accommodate people and their pets.

That’s right!

Among the latest laws on the books is one that allows animals to be buried alongside their owners.

animals to be buried alongside their owners
A headstone at Hartsdale Pet Cemetery in Westchester County. Before the passage of a new law in New York, pet graveyards were the only option for pet owners who did not want to be separated from their animal companions after death. Credit Bryan Anselm for The New York Times

This is a big deal for pet people, as according to the state’s Association of Cemeteries, the practice was not allowed anywhere in New York until now. The thoughtful new burial law is sponsored by Michael H. Ranzenhofer, a Republican state senator from Erie County, and James F. Brennan, a Democratic state assemblyman from Brooklyn.

Prior to the new law, pet parents who refused to be buried without their adopted ‘kids’ by their side had to resort to being buried in a pet cemetery. Edward C. Martin Jr., Director of the Hartsdale Pet Cemetery, stated that at least 5 people are laid to rest there every year.

Well, it appears as though that number should be less from now on!

One way people were doing this in the past was by sneaking a pet’s urn into the owner’s casket just before the burial. Yet, because of this new law, formal and legal plans can now be made, making it unnecessary to be sneaky about it anymore.

Not only can an existing urn be placed inside the owner’s casket, but if a pet happens to outlive its owner, they can even have side-by-side plots where they’ll eventually rest in peace together.

Of course, as with most laws, there are certain stipulations. For instance, the new law allows only cremated remains of pets to be buried.

Furthermore, religious cemeteries are exempt, and cemeteries are not under any legal obligation to accept animals. Either way, there’s no doubt that permitting this will be a big selling point for pet owners who are deciding on where they want to be buried.

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Edward C. Martin Jr., director of Hartsdale Pet Cemetery. About five to seven people are buried there with their pets each year, he said. Credit Bryan Anselm for The New York Times

It’s a wonder that this wasn’t allowed before now, since most people consider their pets to be a member of the family. It simply makes sense to be buried with or close by them, as is often done with loved ones.

Presently, the types of pets that may legally be buried with their owners are limited to those designated as domestic animals in the state. Luckily, the law has some leeway to allow many types of creatures, including reptiles and invertebrates.

The cemetery law is merely one in several steps that have been taken lately to make New York more ‘pet friendly’.

In fact, a law that passed last year allows dogs to join their owners in restaurants at outdoor tables. Additional statutes implemented in recent years include imposing stiffer penalties for stealing or mistreating pets and enhancing the oversight of pet dealers.

Currently it is unclear how many other states allow pets to be buried with their owners in ‘regular’ cemeteries. So, if you’d like to see if it is an option in your state, simply call a local cemetery or two and ask them about it. Then maybe someday (though hopefully not too soon) you’ll forever be with your four-legged friend!

We love animals and believe in treating them with the utmost respect. Please share if you do, too.


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