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Burial Ban in New York
State puts an end to human ashes in pet cemeteries

Hartsdale Pet Cemetery, the first of its kind in America, holds a special place in my heart. My cat was cremated there and I have friends whose pets are buried there. The Hartsdale Pet Cemetery has been open for over 100 years and is a testament to the special relationship humans have with their pets.

Given that it's the final resting place for many special animals, it's not surprising that about 600 pet lovers chose to join their dogs and cats by having their ashes buried at the cemetery. Although people have been doing this for decades, the ritual is now a thing of the past.

In February, New York's Division of Cemeteries made the practice illegal and ordered the Hartsdale Pet Cemetery to stop taking human ashes. The statewide ban became official in April.

Officials say the ruling was created because human cemeteries have more state protections than pet cemeteries. Additionally, human cemeteries must be nonprofit while pet cemeteries can be a for-profit businesses.

As you can imagine, plot holders at the Hartsdale Pet Cemetery are angry about the sudden restriction.

I understand where the Division of Cemeteries is coming from, but it seems unfair since there are no other restrictions on where you can put human ashes.

If ocean lovers can have their ashes carried out to sea and nature lovers can have their ashes scattered in the forest, why can't an animal lover have their ashes buried at a pet cemetary?

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JoAnna Lou is a New York City-based researcher, writer and agility enthusiast.

Photo by NatalieMaynor/flickr.

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Submitted by Anonymous | August 11 2011 |

This is so typical. Owners of human cemeteries don't want to compete with pet cemeteries--and so seek protection in the form of ridiculous regulations to protect whom? Burned remains? How are ashes in a cemetery and different than ashes in a meadow? Must have been some effective lobbying going on.

Submitted by weepawsdotorg | August 12 2011 |

Very sad news for many many pet owners. Of course the ruling claims to be protecting people, but it protects them in one way while leaving them vulnerable in another. If people are willing to pay for their ashes to be interred at a for-profit business that may not exist in perpetuity, it should be their right to do so (just as it's their right ask for their ashes to be spread in a meadow, even though the meadow might be a subdivision or a parking lot a decade later).

I hope people who want to be with their pets in a final resting place will look for options in nearby states. In Las Vegas we've got at least one cemetery for pets and people, and I'm sure they're not uncommon.

Submitted by Taylor York | August 12 2011 |

The fact is that there is nothing wrong or unlawful about burying your ashes in the private property of a pet cemetery in NY.

The Cemetery Board of New York does not have the power and authority to impose this ban. The Board is created under Not-For-Profit Corporation law and has no enforcement authority over any organization that is not a Not-For-Profit. This ban is an illegal abuse of power by members of the Board who claim to be motivated by consumer protection, but appear to be bending to pressure from the human cemetery lobby to block cremation alternatives to traditional human burial in traditional cemeteries.

If consumer protection were the true motivation, then the Board should be suggesting new legislation to include certain additional protections regarding what pet cemeteries can do, not just flat out ban the practice altogether. This ban is violating a person's lawful right to decide for themselves where their ashes will be buried and is being vigorously fought. Anyone who wishes to get involved is invited to visit www.backoffmyrights.org for more information.

Submitted by Taylor York | August 12 2011 |

The fact is that there is nothing wrong or unlawful about burying your ashes in the private property of a pet cemetery in NY.

The Cemetery Board of New York does not have the power and authority to impose this ban. The Board is created under Not-For-Profit Corporation law and has no enforcement authority over any organization that is not a Not-For-Profit. This ban is an illegal abuse of power by members of the Board who claim to be motivated by consumer protection, but appear to be bending to pressure from the human cemetery lobby to block cremation alternatives to traditional human burial in traditional cemeteries.

If consumer protection were the true motivation, then the Board should be suggesting new legislation to include certain additional protections regarding what pet cemeteries can do, not just flat out ban the practice altogether. This ban is violating a person's lawful right to decide for themselves where their ashes will be buried and is being vigorously fought. Anyone who wishes to get involved is invited to visit www.backoffmyrights.org for more information.

Submitted by Bev | December 21 2013 |

2011? I read a recent article where a retired NYC cop's ashes are there.

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