Whole-Family Cemeteries allow full-body burials of a pet’s remains in the family cemetery plot (in adjacent and/or tiered graves). While some may consider this practice to be unusual, much evidence reveals that such burials were not uncommon in various cultures throughout human history. Today, as it becomes increasingly acceptable to express one’s love and spiritual/emotional connection to an animal, there is a growing interest in such burial options. We seek to:
- Amend U.S. state cemetery laws in order to allow for the full-body burial of pets’ remains in family cemetery plots.
- Encourage the interpretation of existing state laws to allow for this practice (when the laws do not specifically prohibit this practice).
- Support international efforts to establish conservation whole-family cemeteries.
- Encourage the federal government to allow military cemeteries to provide whole-family burial options for veterans and their animals, and to create green burial sections for the remains of military animals.
- Attend to the concern of prematurely ‘euthanizing’ animals in order to be buried with the ‘pet owner.’ (see bottom of page)
In the U.S., a pet’s remains may be buried in a family’s cemetery plots in many states; however this practice is currently prohibited in Georgia, New York, Oregon, Virginia and Washington (we are investigating other state laws for a complete listing).
Write to your legislators in GA, NY, OR or WA requesting to amend these laws, and let us know their response.
- Find your GA legislator by name or zip code
- Find your NY legislator by name or zip code
- Find your OR legislator by zip code
- Find your WA legislator by name or zip code
Note: policies of individual cemeteries vary greatly. Even in states that allow a pet’s remains to be buried in a family cemetery plot, particular cemeteries may prohibit it. Meanwhile, others, as most green cemeteries, would gladly accommodate such a request if their state law permitted such a practice.
Massachusetts House Bill 3272, introduced in January, 2015. Pending.
New York State Legislature Bill S4322, introduced March, 2013. Pending. This new bill would only allow for the interment of a pets cremated remains only incidental to the burial of human remains. Read our blog.
Virginia General Assembly HB 588, introduced in 2014. Passed. Read our blog.
Washington State Legislature SB 5063, introduced in 2009, voted down. http://apps.leg.wa.gov/billinfo/summary.aspx?year=2009&bill=5063
Commentary by cemetery professionals here
How do Conservation Whole-Family Cemeteries deter the premature ‘euthanasia’ of animals?
- By raising the social status of animals in society – by regarding animals as family, we care for them as we would for our human family members.
- While it is rarely addressed, healthy animals are already being prematurely ‘euthanized.’ By encouraging whole-family cemeteries, we bring this secret into light and promote the care for a pet after an owner’s death or disability.
- When laws prohibit whole-family cemeteries, the only option people have to ensure that their pets remains are buried with their own is to arrange for them to be sneaked into a coffin. Whole-Family Cemeteries will allow a pet’s remains (full-body or cremains) to be legally buried in the family plot at a future time.
To ensure the ongoing care of your companion animal in the event of your death, visit our page on Pet Trusts.
updated November 25, 2015