Does your best friend have four legs instead of two and wear a permanent fur coat? Then you probably spend a good portion of your living moments alongside your best cat or dog buddy. But what will happen when the both of you pass away? If you're like many pet lovers, the thought of being separated from your best friend for eternity is something that you fervently don't want to happen. Yes, you may believe that your spirits might one day meet over the Rainbow Bridge, but is there anything you can do to ensure that your physical bodies can also remain together for eternity?
Since Ancient Times
The idea of being interred with a beloved pet forever is definitely not a new one. In ancient Egypt, for example, dead pets, including dogs, cats, and even monkeys were sometimes buried with their masters. It was believed that some of the animals were killed and mummified when their owner passed away, while evidence in other tombs seem to indicate that the remains were those of pets that had died prior to their master's death. And in 2006, archaeologists discovered a cemetery in Peru where a number of dogs were buried at the feet of their owners in their own graves.
Paw in Hand Burials Today
So it probably shouldn't be surprising in our pet-crazy world today that many owners are searching for a way to be laid to rest with their furry best friend. What is surprising is that it's not always easy. In some states, the practice of having your pet buried with you is illegal; while in others, there are no laws specifically addressing the issue. In those areas, according to Elder Law, it is often up to the discretion of the funeral home whether it will allow an urn with the cremated remains of a pet in its owner's coffin.
As of 2016, only a few states actually have laws on their books allowing pets to be buried with their owners, and they often have restrictions. The following are some of those states:
- Florida. Cremated pets can be interred with their owners, but their ashes cannot be mixed.
- New Jersey. The cremated remains of a human and a beloved pet can be buried together. The catch? They must be interred in a pet cemetery.
- Pennsylvania. Cemeteries may have three areas -- an area for humans; an area for pets; and another area where the two can be buried together.
- Virginia. Humans and their pets can be buried alongside each other, but only in specially designated areas of a cemetery. In addition, human and pet must have their own separate casket.
And in June 2016, the New York state Assembly had voted in favor of a bill to allow pets to be buried with their owners in a human cemetery. The bill was still awaiting the governor's signature as of September 2016. In the meantime, New York already allows the cremated remains of an owner and a pet to be buried together in a pet cemetery.
If you are interested in having a pet interred with a loved one who has passed away, speak with your funeral home. As evidenced by what is happening in New York, laws regarding this issue are changing quickly in many states. So what is true today may not be true tomorrow. And because the funeral director will be aware of specific laws in your area, they should be able to come up with the right solution for your particular situation. If you are concerned about your own internment, you may want to look into purchasing a plot in, say, a pet cemetery that allows owner-pet burials, if the practice is not allowed in your local traditional graveyard. For more information, check out websites like http://www.hitzemanfuneral.com.Share