Pet Loss is serious Stuff

By Jo Pettit, Executive Director, NSFDA

To understand why bereavement services for pets and arrangements for the burial of pets are offered more and more each day, read the following “Declaration of Policy” in the NY State General Business Law regarding pet cemeteries/crematoriums.

Article 35-C.750:
“The Legislature hereby finds and declares that the relationships that humans develop with other members of the animal kingdom that are taken into our homes and kept as pets are unique and special. These relationships can enrich our lives and increase our happiness. Even after the death of a pet, human attachment to the memory of the pet often remains very strong and many people feel the need to memorialize their love for their animal by burying their pet in a pet cemetery. Pet cemeteries, their managers and owners have a special responsibility to their customers who have entrusted their pets’ remains with them. These pet cemeteries have a duty to act in an ethical and lawful manner to prevent grieving pet owners from experiencing further emotional pain or financial manipulation. Perpetration of fraud against grieving pet owners is unconscionable. The Legislature further finds and declares that the people of this State have a vital interest in the establishment, maintenance and preservation of pet cemeteries and pet crematoriums and the proper operation of the businesses and individuals which own and manage the same ...

Often we find the written Law dispassionate and dry. Yet, from the above quote, it seems that when it comes to pets, people soften and forgo legalistic language. That supposition should tell us that the emotions that the deaths of pets evoke must be addressed. And, who better than a funeral director to address them?

Get the Facts

Before you decide how you want your pet’s final disposition handled, know what’s available.

Since funeral homes are licensed to deal only with human remains, pet memorialization must take place off-site, usually at a pet cemetery or pet crematory, both, which must be licensed by the State. There are several located on Long Island. Each has internal policies concerning procedures and fees, including grave maintenance and use of interment areas for ceremonies.

Further, ordinances about pet burial on private property (for instance, a grave adjacent to the pet owners’ home) vary from municipality to municipality. It is interesting that within some Towns that allow private property burial, there are Villages that prohibit the same.

In any event, a call to a funeral director will answer any questions you have.

Pet Bereavement

The loss of a beloved pet is painful and requires the owner to go through a grief process similar, if not in some cases the same, as the loss of another human. This fact is recognized by the medical field and by bereavement professionals nation wide. Consequently, a large number of grief aids have become available through suppliers and through the Internet. There is even a Pet Loss Hotline for support and referrals.
For those who need help dealing with the death of a pet, there are numerous grief professionals who offer counseling. Also, many books, pamphlets and brochures provide guidance both to children and adults who have lost pets.

When asked ...

When you ask a funeral director for information and support, there is much you can expect. As a bereaved person you require the same understanding and patience that anyone else suffering the loss of a loved one needs. You should be treated as you would if a significant human in your life died. The funeral director can assist those supporting you in treating the pet’s death as a meaningful loss. Your friends can be invited to express sympathy and encourage you to share feelings and memories.

In other words, let the funeral director do what he/she does best: stand by and assist those who are suffering during a black time of their lives and ease them back into the light.