Can you bury your pet – or relative

A few states have laws that prohibit a pet from being buried in your yard. But what about New Jersey?

I realize this is a morbid topic, but it’s something countless pet owners do.

Maybe you’ve asked yourself the same question, especially in a state where just about everything seems to have a law or regulation (or tax) associated with it.

Having grown up with many cats and dogs, when one of them died, we never really thought twice about burying them in our garden. We just did. But is it legal in the Garden State?

The best I can say is yes. But there are a few details worth sharing.

First off, I’m basing this answer on several websites which almost all seem to reference a website for a wildlife removal business in North Jersey:

If it’s your pet that died, you can put it in a box like a coffin and put something in its possession like a shoelace. Dig a hole large enough to hold the box or put (the) carcass in the hole. The hole should be at least two feet deep to prevent (a) flooding from washing out.

They also recommend putting a layer of stones over the grave to prevent other animals from disturbing it.

Animal paws – Photo by Shane on Unsplash

Animal paws – Photo by Shane on Unsplash

While this isn’t an “official” answer, when researching this topic, I couldn’t find any actual laws in the state of New Jersey that made this act against the law.

Still need to check

Although the state itself apparently does not prohibit burying a furry friend in your yard, your local municipality could then check with your city or township.

What if I move?

Well, that’s a bit tricky. Obviously, you don’t want to shock the people who just bought your house when they go to do some new landscaping – and I’m sure you have no interest in unearthing a pet. This is something you really need to consider.

Alternatives

There are many pet cemeteries in New Jersey. Contact your local veterinarian’s office for more information. or search online.

Can my pet be buried with me?

Some people get so attached they want to be buried with their pets – can you do that in New Jersey? Well, it’s a bit complicated.

Cemetery – Picture by Madeleine Maguire on Unsplash

Cemetery – Picture by Madeleine Maguire on Unsplash

Before researching this subject, I did not know that there was a New Jersey Cemetery Board (consisting of ten people) which regulates this sort of thing. They say,

No. By law…”cemetery” means any land or place used or dedicated for the interment of human remains or the disposal of cremated human remains. A cemetery, by definition, cannot accept pets unless it is exclusively a pet cemetery.

Can you be buried with your pet?

Although you cannot have your pet buried in a human cemetery, it is apparently legal in New Jersey for a person to be buried in a pet cemetery as long as the human remains have been cremated. Several law firm sites let’s say it’s OK.

Can a human be buried on private property?

I did not search for the answer to this question, but when I discovered the New Jersey Cemetery Board, I found a great list of questions and answers. One of them is whether it is legal to bury someone in your yard.

The answer: no. Well, almost nope.

The only place interment can take place in New Jersey is on land dedicated for cemetery purposes. In order for your property to be used for burial, you will need to apply to the New Jersey Cemetery Board for a Certificate of Authority to operate as a “Cemetery Business”.

Further information

The FAQ page on the New Jersey Cemetery Board’s website has some very helpful information, should you wish to do further research.

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