When an animal dies, it can be just as devastating to the survivor as if a human companion or relative died.
What do you do with leftovers? Is it legal to bury a pet in the backyard? Can a domestic animal be cremated or buried in a cemetery?
Pet cemeteries are not a new idea. A January 16, 1928, Reading time item mentions that Reading Pet Cemetery opened in July 1927.
The demand for post-life services has increased as the number of households with pets has increased.
According to American Pet Products Association 2019-2020 Survey, 67% of U.S. households own pets, which is an 11% increase since the first survey in 1988.
Choice Mutual, an insurance company in Nevada, said last month that there are 14 pet cemeteries in Pennsylvania. And it indicates that more people seem to be searching online for information about pet cremation.
Cindy Tomaszewski said she saw a clear trend in cremation at Reading Pet Cemetery, where burial of pet bodies has declined. She and her husband, Steve, have owned the cemeteries at 90 Oley Line Road in the Township of Exeter since 1993.
âPeople are more mobile today,â said Tomaszewski. “They might only live in this area for four or five years. Cremation is their option so they can take their animal’s remains with them.”
The Tomaszewskis bought the property from his uncle, Irvin S. Yoder. The Yoder family had owned the site since 1943, according to Berks County Records of Records.
Cremate a pet
Peachtree Cremation Services LLC, 223 Peach St., Leesport, a division of Leibensperger Funeral Homes Inc., opened in September 2012.
âWithout having the exact numbers, we made about 50 animals this first year and now we are making over 1,000 animals per year,â said Derek Leibensperger, owner of To fish and Leesport and Hamburg funeral homes. “We probably have an average of 100 animals per month.”
Community cremation is available for $ 2 per pound of animal weight, while private animal cremation alone ranges from $ 120 for an animal weighing up to 5 pounds to $ 260 for a 131 animal. to 200 pounds. The cremains are placed in a wooden urn.
âPeople can bring their pets to us directly or we work with several local animal hospitals,â said Leibensperger.
He said Peachtree’s goal was to get the cremains back to the pet’s family within 24 to 48 hours. If a client prefers not to take animal ashes home, he said he has an agreement with a local farmer where they can be scattered around a field.
Many Berks veterinary surgeries have contracts with other cremation services as well.
Keystone Animal Cemetery, 537 Old Topton Road, Township of Longswamp, also offers pet cremations, but they offer more options.
At the 3.5-acre tree-lined site in the Mertztown section of the township, there is room for more than 3,500 plots.
Pets can be cremated by Allied veterinary cremations and cremans returned to family or buried in Keystone. Humans can be cremated elsewhere, and their cremans can also be buried next to pets.
âThere are people in this world who have no families, who have no one in the world other than their pets,â said Jim Yezik, owner of Keystone Pet Cemetery. “I have had several requests to be buried with their pets and it is the best I can do at this time and on time to accommodate them.”
The cemetery offers people a calm and peaceful place to visit and remember the good times with their pets.
âIt allows people to shut down,â Yezik said. “It allows them to have the personal knowledge that someone cared enough to take their pet to its final resting place.”
Yezik said customers can purchase a plot for their pet and pre-arrange for the purchase of a plot so that their own cremated remains can be buried next to their pet’s cremains or body.
Customers can do the same at Reading Pet Cemetery, said Cindy Tomaszewski.
She prefers not to discuss pricing over the phone and recommends a meeting to review available options, a sentiment echoed by Yezik.
âI don’t care to discuss pricing,â he said. âIt’s between me and whoever the client is. You have to be someone who is family here and bury a loved one. I don’t give this information over the phone, even to a potential client. get together and sit and talk about everything, just like you would with a funeral service. “
Like Peachtree, private and communal cremation is available. However, Keystone also has a chapel where pet tours or memorial services can be arranged.
Leibensperger said he would not use the chapel where human services are held for his funeral homes for pet services.
Tomaszewski said services take place at Reading Pet Cemetery, if a client wishes.
One of the more interesting burials she said was involved with was that of the chimpanzees that were part of an act of vaudeville.
âIt took six men to carry the coffin,â she says.
Tomaszewski said he was told the chimps were sitting at the table and eating with the rest of the family.
Yezik lives on site at the cemetery that he and his late wife created about 20 years ago.
âIt’s my labor of love,â Yezik said. “I am semi-retired from the funeral business and have the pet cremation service and personally take care of the pet cemetery now.”
Keystone Pet Cemetery is also affiliated with Home pet euthanasia service for quality of life operated by Dr Debbie Ellinger. She will have the body of an animal transported to Keystone after euthanasia.
For some people and their beliefs, burning a body, even that of a pet, is not an option.
âI find that these are different cultures that look to burials rather than cremation,â Yezik said. “Some religious cultures don’t believe in fire. They bury, that’s all.”
Yezik says Human Graveyard regulations will dictate whether a pet’s remains can be buried with a human. There are no laws against it, he said.
While it’s legal to bury a pet on an owner’s property in Pennsylvania, there are some restrictions.
the the burial place must be outside the century-old floodplain; at least 100 feet from any water source, well, sinkhole or property line; and remains must be covered with at least 2 feet of soil within 48 hours of death.
Pennsylvania’s requirements are based on the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resource Conservation Service. Standard of Practice 368, according to Shannon Powers, press secretary for the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture. Law 100 of 1996, which amends the Pennsylvania Code of Agriculture, also governs the burial of animals.
âFirst and foremost, the reason we approach pet burial is that we always want to make sure that we are protecting animal and human health,â said Dr. Kevin Brightbill, state veterinarian. “Depending on why a pet or livestock family member may die, there are always inherent risks.”
Brightbill said municipalities could have stricter guidelines.
âWhat we need to be aware of is making sure that we are complying with the regulations of the townships and boroughs,â Brightbill said. âEven though the Ministry of Agriculture says you can bury, we really need to check with the township or borough to make sure it’s allowed.â
For example, Reading has no codes that deal with animal burial, but state requirements may not be possible for some small owners.
When asked if there were any situations where an animal’s body shouldn’t be buried in the ground, Brightbill listed a few scenarios.
âCertainly, if this is a situation where there is an animal bite, we need to be aware of rabies and rabies testing,â he said.
Decomposition will affect whether or not an animal can be tested for rabies. If there are concerns, the animal should not be buried, but sent for testing.
âThe best person to talk to regarding the disposal of an animal after euthanasia would be the vet,â Brightbill said. “They can notify the client. If there is an infectious disease present, they can recommend that it be eliminated at their clinic through a crematorium.”
The way an animal is euthanized in a clinic is another issue that may contraindicate home burial.
âPentobarbital is said to be the # 1 agent used to euthanize pets and it is safe and effective,â Brightbill explained. âUnfortunately, this drug can pose a threat to other animals that might consume this carcass. We run into situations with cattle, horses and even dogs and cats. Then we can have relay toxicity in species like bald eagles and other scavengers because that carcass was not properly handled. “