The Hartsdale Pet Cemetery, the nation’s oldest and largest final resting place for furry friends, which we profiled in a 2009 Voice cover story on the pet death business, has been told to stop burying humans with their beloved pets.
The Post reports that the state Division of Cemeteries has told Hartsdale that “state law says cemeteries are for people and pet cemeteries are just for animals” and it must stop accommodating the 10 or so people a year who ask for their cremains to be buried with their pets.
As the Hartsdale staff explained its rationale to us when we visited the Westchester County burial grounds: When someone is cremated and turned into ashes, their loved ones are free to do whatever they wish with those cremains — toss them into the sea, drop them out of a model airplane, or plant them with a tree]. (It might not be legal to snort them like cocaine, but this is known to happen, as well.)
Hartsdale acknowledged that its cemetery was a legal burial place for the bodies of pets only, but thought it was as legal to have your cremated remains buried with your pet as it is to have them shot into outer space.
According to the Post, the state’s “April letter to pet-cemetery operators said the state Cemetery Board had ruled that any business that buries people must comply with state law and operate as a nonprofit. The pet cemeteries are run as for-profit businesses.”
But the cemetery’s director told the Post, as he had told us, that “its lawyers have always maintained that the human ashes ‘are no longer human’ and therefore could be placed anywhere, including a pet graveyard.”
About 700 devoted owners have been buried at Hartsdale over the decades, the Post notes, and the cemetery has accommodated them as long as they were cremated and “their pets beat them to the grave.”