Whole-Family Cemeteries

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:

  1. Amend U.S. state cemetery laws in order to allow for the full-body burial of pets’ remains in family cemetery plots.
  2. Encourage the interpretation of existing state laws to allow for this practice (when the laws do not specifically prohibit this practice).
  3. Support international efforts to establish conservation whole-family cemeteries.
  4. 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.
  5. Attend to the concern of prematurely ‘euthanizing’ animals in order to be buried with the ‘pet owner.’ (see bottom of page)

Need

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).

Recent Activity

USA

  • California – Stay tuned! as we are trying to have a bill introduced.
  • 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.
  • New York – January 26, 2015: State Legislature Bill S02582 introduced. Pending. The burial of pet and human remains would have to be buried at the same time with cemetery’s approval. Passed the state senate (3/16) and state assembly (6/16) and awaits approval of Gov. Cuomo. Read article.
  • 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

International

  • 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.

Actions

Write to your legislators in GA, NY, OR or WA requesting to amend these laws, and let us know their response.

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.

Premature ‘Euthanasia’

How do Conservation Whole-Family Cemeteries deter the premature ‘euthanasia’ of animals?

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

Resources

Visit our Providers pages for a list of Whole-Family Cemeteries in the USA and internationally.

To ensure the ongoing care of your companion animal in the event of your death, visit our page on Pet Trusts.

Our Bibliography and Culture webpages document examples of such burials.

Blogs – Several of our blogs address Whole-Family Cemeteries:

Postcard

postcard

updated March 18, 2016

6 thoughts on “Whole-Family Cemeteries

  1. This is very informative. Can you point me to more information on the whole family burial prohibition in California and its current status?

    Thanks,
    Charlie

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  2. PET MEMORIAL ACRES is 14+ acres licensed by New York state and legally dedicated in perpetuity as a pet cemetery featuring Pet Memorial Park. I encourage green burial and provide a section of the cemetery for green burials only. By “green” burial, I refer to use of biodegradable, non-toxic materials, such as linen shrouds, plain pine boxes, biodegradable paper or wicker caskets, etc. Our goal is to provide options to pet owners while preserving and protecting our natural resources. We do not encourage what I refer to as “golf course” style grooming and use of chemicals for cemetery grounds. We are striving for a natural look and low impact to the area. Little or no use of non-organic compounds is the goal. Green is good! Check out MemorialAcres.com for more information.
    All best, Darryl Simcoe, Founder

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  3. I wonder if in NY a more practical approach is to promote allowing licensed pet cemetery operators to bury human cremains with their pets. I’ m sure you are aware of the on-going controversy in our state. So many people are electing cremation, and providing the burial of human cremains with their pets is a very reasonable option that also promotes the pet cemetery industry. PET MEMORIAL ACRES (memorialAcres.com) is all about providing options to pet owners.

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    • Thanks for your post. For those who are comfortable with cremation, they should have the option of having their cremains buried or scattered in a pet cemetery. Yet there are many people who for a number of reasons (e.g., religious, environmental) will not be cremated, and who would not want to cremate their pets’ remains. As such, whole-family cemeteries are a beautiful choice. In NY State, such an option is prohibited at this time. As you may know we have a directory of green pet cemeteries and would like to know more about Pet Memorial Acres – is yours a green pet cemetery? Is it deeded in perpetuity? If you prefer, feel free to email us at info @ greenpetburial.org.

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      • Eric,
        NY has now ruled that pet cemeteries can accept human cremains for burial with their pets. In a weird twist, they ruled that pet cemeteries cannot advertise that they accept human cremains for burial with their pets. I’m trying to get a copy of the very recent ruling.
        All best,
        Darryl Simcoe
        Pet Memorial Acres

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      • Darryl,
        This is wonderful news! I would like to learn more about the whole process and yes, the ruling. In addition, the Green Pet-Burial Society can list which pet cemeteries would be willing to do this. The only thing is – most pet cemeteries are not deeded in perpetuity – although some are. This would be an important consideration for the family.
        All best,
        Eric

        Like

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