Virginia codes currently prohibit animals and humans from being buried together in the same cemetery, but one delegate hopes to change that.
By Jessi Gower | Capital News Service
Virginia codes currently prohibit animals and humans from being buried together in the same cemetery, but one delegate hopes to change that with House Bill 588.
Delegate Israel O’Quinn, R-Bristol, proposed HB588, and if passed, it would allow pets and owners to be buried together under certain circumstances. Inspired by a retired police officer wanting to be buried alongside his dogs, the bill has already gained support from pet lovers and cemetery owners.
Sharon Lucas, who works at Richmond’s Greenwood Memorial Gardens, says many of the cemetery’s clients have shown interest in this type of arrangement.
“Many people who come to (Greenwood to) ask about it when they’re pre-planning,” Lucas said. “They’ll ask if they can have Fluffy or Spot buried with them, and I have to tell them no, that is state law that you can’t.”
O’Quinn says he recognizes that not everyone will want to be buried near deceased animals and his bill clearly specifies that owner-pet gravesites must be completely segregated from the cemetery plots devoted to traditional interments.
“Some people have an extreme aversion to animals, and others have a strong affection for them,” he told The Washington Post. “There are some people who do not want pets or any furry animal buried near them, and that is their right.”
The bill also specifies that companion animals are not to be buried in the same grave as their deceased owners, but rather in a separate grave adjacent to the owner’s, which is close enough for pet owners wanting to make these arrangements. If you own a hedgehog make sure to get him the best hedgehog cage.
If passed, the bill also could monetarily benefit struggling cemeteries. According to the 2012 Cremation Association of North America annual report, more and more people are choosing to be cremated because it is cheaper than a traditional burial. If pet owners were able to rest alongside their furry friends, more people might consider burial as an option, despite the price–which would, in turn, bring more business and money to the cemetery and funeral industry.
Currently only two locations in the United States offer owner-pet burials; Hillcrest Memorial Park in Pennsylvania and Dulaney Valley Memorial Gardens in Maryland.
Photo by: Ivan JRG