Together in death as in life.
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).
- Massachusetts – Massachusetts does not yet have a whole-family cemetery. However, as of 5/28/19, the official state website, Mass.gov, lists us as a resource addressing Massachusetts law about burial, cremation, and funerals, under ‘Green burial’.
- California – Stay tuned! as we are trying to have a bill introduced.
- New York – September 27, 2016: State Legislature Bill S02582 was signed into law.. The burial of pet and human remains would have to be buried at the same time with cemetery’s approval. introduced (1/26/15). Passed the state senate (3/16) and state assembly (6/16) and approved by of Gov. Cuomo (9/26/16). Read article and here.
- Delaware – August 2016: the discovery of human remains in a pet cemetery has sparked interest in whole-family cemeteries in the state. Read article.
- Louisiana – March 2016: Senate Bill 166 introduced. Pending. Will let cemeteries designate a garden or special section for pets to be laid to rest with their owners. We were consulted, and recommended that they also allow a separate pet section for those with several pets. Read article on bill’s introduction. Read article on deferment.
- Indiana – January 2016: House Bill 1374 introduced. Pending. Limited to the scattering or shallow burial of cremains of a law enforcement animal; or service animal, upon the guardian’s grave.
- Massachusetts – January 2015: House Bill 3272 introduced. Pending.
- New York – March 2013: State Legislature Bill S4322 introduced. Died in Assembly. 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 – 2014: General Assembly HB 588 introduced. Passed. Read our blog.
- Washington – 2009: State Legislature SB 5063 introduced. Voted down. http://apps.leg.wa.gov/billinfo/summary.aspx?year=2009&bill=5063. Commentary by cemetery professionals here
USA – Military Dogs
- Maryland – May 2017 – Resthaven Memorial Gardens, Funeral Home and Crematory is dedicating a new section, The Faithful Companions Honor Garden, to allow the remains of soldiers and their families who have service animals or combat dogs to be laid to rest together. Read article.
- Michigan – January 2013 – National cemetery denies burial of Army dog that served beside Michigan soldier. Read article.
- Germany – June 2015: The German Cemetery Association introduces the nation’s first whole family cemeteries. Read article.
- New Zealand – October 2013: The New Zealand Law Commission, upon its first principles review of the Burial and Cremation Act 1964, notes that “Cemetery managers who wish to allow animal interments may do so, and may of course control the burial of animals through bylaws or policies.” See our blog. See: IP34 The Legal Framework for Burial and Cremation in New Zealand 4:53-5.
Write to your legislators in GA, NY, OR or WA requesting to amend these laws, and let us know their response.
- Find your CA legislator by name or address
- 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.
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.
Blogs – Several of our blogs address Whole-Family Cemeteries:
- New Zealand Considers Whole-Family Cemeteries, August 6, 2015
- New York Anticipation, June 20, 2014
- Virginia General Assembly to Consider Bill allowing Pets to be Buried beside Humans, January 31, 2014
- Two more Whole-Family Cemeteries in UK, February 4, 2012
- Two New Green Cemeteries!, December 22, 2011
updated May 28, 2019