Forest Lawn First Cemetery To Open Its Gates To Pets and Their Owners

When pets cross the Rainbow Bridge, where will their final resting place be? Forest Lawn Cemeteries in New York now allows pet remains to be buried with owners in their grave.


In September 2016, New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo signed the new Pet Burial Law, which allows for cemeteries to allow pet interments. Prior to the law’s approval in June and activation in September, the state’s cemetery regulations did not allow for the burial of cremated pets in human cemeteries–often leaving pet owners’ families in quandary wondering what to do with beloved pet remains.


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Now, four cemeteries in Buffalo, NY will allow the cremated remains of pets, including birds, fish, rabbits, turtles, and other family pets to be interred with their families. Forest Lawn cemetery president Joseph P. Dispenza said that many people consider their pets to be family members. Suspecting the legislation was going to come to fruition, offered Forest Lawn Group cemeteries to be the first in the state allowing pet remains to be with their humans. He said that in his industry, cremations are outnumbering regular burials and that responding to the desires of his customers made sense when acting under the new legislation.


Forest Lawn is the first non-profit cemetery in the state that will allow the pet burials, and under the new law, any fees that are associated with the burial of cremated pets will go into the cemetery’s maintenance fund. Dispenza said that in commitment to perpetual care for all (pets included) who rest within their gates, any money received from pet burials will allow them to permanently care for the grounds.


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Many people who make long-term, after-death plans want to know what can be done for their pets, as it is estimated that 62% of American households include some type of pet, and this allows people to have peace of mind when looking at plans. While a pet’s cremated remains cannot be buried in the same casket as its owner, its urn could be buried in the same grave, with the new practice even being retroactive. Families who confirm a pet was a lot owner’s may have small sections of graves dug up in order to keep a pet and his owner together forever, much in the way cemeteries do with a spouse’s cremated remains.


A benefit of the new practice also will allow anyone to look the pet up on Forest Lawn’s website once it’s been buried. Simply searching the site’s “Locate a Loved One,” section with the pet will bring up the burial information… and ensures that our precious pets will never be forgotten, even if over the Rainbow Bridge.

Lori Ennis
Lori Ennis

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