Pet lovers can now take their devotion to the next level, as the New York Department of State says it will allow pet cemeteries to accept the ashes of human owners to be buried alongside their pets. According to the New York Daily News, a two-year-long battle ensued when the state refused to allow the remains of New York Police Department officer Thomas Ryan to be laid to rest with his three dogs at the Hartsdale Pet Cemetery & Crematory in Hartsdale.
“People do get a sense of comfort from knowing they can lie for eternity with their beloved pet, that they can be loved and protected in the afterlife just as faithfully as when they were alive,” said Ryan’s niece, attorney Taylor York, who fought to have the policy reversed.
As the Daily News pointed out, the Hartsdale operation in Westchester County has actually been accepting human ashes, including those of Ryan’s wife, Bunny, since the 1920s. However, when it came time for Ryan to be buried in the pet cemetery, the state intervened.
“I am not sure what prompted it,” Hartsdale owner Ed Martin said. “The whole thing, as far as I was concerned, was a silly matter.”
The Hartsdale cemetery claims to be the oldest operating pet cemetery in the world. It was established in 1896. Martin told the Daily News that he gets about six requests for humans to be buried alongside their pets each year.
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According to the Daily News, the New York Department of State began to officially allow human remains at Hartsdale in late 2011, but the six other licensed pet cemeteries were still prohibited from accepting human ashes until now. The only caveat is that the cemetery can’t charge for the human burial, and it can’t advertise the practice.
“A pet relationship, some believe, including me, is a different relationship,” Martin said. “They are only with you a very short period of time, compared to a human life, and you grow very close to them.”