Pet owners often face many difficult decisions regarding the care of their beloved animal companions.
When a pet becomes ill, pet owners have to weigh the risks, cost, and benefit to determine how to best care for their pet.
If treatment isn’t feasible, then pet owners have to determine when to euthanise their pet.
Finally, as their pet nears the end of their life and they have to decide on aftercare, even more decisions have to be made.
Should the pet be buried? If I do bury my pet, should I bury him in my garden or a cemetery? Should I have him cremated? What should I do with the ashes?
One question that many pet owners ask is can pets be buried in human cemeteries?
The short answer is: maybe. We will break the issue down to try and understand the complexity of it.
A Short History – Burying Pets and Humans Together
Before we answer the question, can pets be buried in human cemeteries? It is helpful to consider the history of human-animal relationships.
Thousands of years ago, the practice of humans and their animal companions being buried together wasn’t altogether uncommon.
Human and animal companion joint burial dates back as far as 10,000 BC, and likely much further still.
In fact, at least one family was discovered buried together with their pet and it is believed to be 14,000 years old.
Egyptian Pharaohs and English Warriors were often buried with their animal companions.
Ancient civilizations believed animals joined humans in the afterlife making joint burial a logical symbolic practice.
While this practice was much more common thousands of years ago, it became very uncommon and even prohibited with the rise of Christianity.
Likely this is because Christians at that time felt any ritual involving animals was pagan.
Many people now feel that burying animals with humans is inappropriate, believing that animals don’t have souls.
The Law in Australia
The next aspect to consider regarding the question can pets be buried in human cemeteries is the law.
In Australia, it seems that the burial of humans in pet cemeteries with their pets is legal, while most human cemeteries don’t currently allow the joint burial of humans and animals.
In the U.S. most states don’t allow pets to be buried in human cemeteries or the state laws are mute on the issue.
There are a few exceptions, however, and some states have family plots that allow pets to be buried with their humans.
In New York and New Jersey, human ashes can be buried with their pet, but only in a pet cemetery. Moreover, in the state of New York, pet cemeteries cannot charge for or advertise the service.
Additionally, the state of New York requires pet and humans to be buried at the same time. The danger with this requirement, however, is that pets may be put to death prematurely.
Pennsylvania allows for cemeteries to have three sections: one for humans only, one for pets only and one for humans and pets together.
In Virginia, humans can have their companion animal buried alongside them, but the animal must be buried in its own casket.
For some, the idea of burying animals with humans creates great religious conflict, however, for others, it is their dying wish.
A question we have to ask ourselves is to consider the sacredness of our animal companions and their remains once they have departed from us.
We have to understand the relationship between humans and animals. And determine whether burying pets with their owners is about simply physical placement or is it really about dignity and respect?
The practice of joint burials between humans and their pets is gaining traction in the US, England, Australia, and other locations internationally.
The Verdict of Can Pets Be Buried In Human Cemeteries
Finally, to answer the question can pets be buried in human cemeteries?
Some pet cemeteries allow human ashes to be buried with their pet’s remains.
The problem with this practice, however, is that pet cemeteries often aren’t regulated as closely as human cemeteries and the remains could be altered in the future if the plots aren’t deeded “in perpetuity.”
For areas that have unclear laws regarding the subject, secret maneuvers have become the standard practice. With funeral directors sneaking urns filled with pet ashes into their owners casket just before burial.
While there is a strong movement toward allowing cemeteries to decide for themselves, for now, cemetery owners and operators often have little direction.
There is hope still as many legislators say they would support this type of legislation, but for now, it isn’t high enough priority, according to some.
In the meantime, there are a few notable options in Australia.
Mission Beach in Queensland has a rainforest rehab site that allows joint human-animal burial.
Woodland Pet Cemetery in Lowanna, New South Wales has a lovely woodland setting.
Animal Memorial Cemetery and Crematorium in Berkshire Park also allows joint burial.
While the laws and social trends are still catching up, many pet owners may be able to find cemeteries that will allow joint burials.
Pet owners may look into non-denominational woodland, natural and green cemeteries that will allow joint burials with humans and their animal companions.
Many pet owners have found that simply asking is all it took to find a final resting place for both them and their animal companions.