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California Bill to Allow Pets to Be Buried Alongside Owners

California Bill to Allow Pets to Be Buried Alongside Owners

Gravestones stand above green grass at Evergreen Cemetery in Los Angeles on Feb. 14, 2023. (Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Sophie Li

Sophie Li

8/14/2023

Updated: 8/20/2023

A bill seeking to allow cemeteries to allocate areas where pets can be buried alongside their owners is expected to return to the California State Senate for discussion in the coming weeks. The legislative session resumed after summer recess Aug. 14.
The bill was authored after more and more pet owners sought to be buried with their pets to express their affection, according to its author Assemblywoman Jacqui Irwin (D-Thousand Oaks.)
“For the majority of Californians who own pets, our furry friends are more than just friends—they are family,” Ms. Irwin said in an analysis of the bill. “As such, it is natural for owners to want to keep their furry members close in the afterlife to celebrate and honor the joy they brought to them.”
Assembly Bill 528, if enacted, would grant public or private cemeteries in the state the right to establish a designated section on their grounds exclusively for the interment of deceased pets alongside their owners.
However, while pets and their owners can be placed together within a shared plot, niche, crypt, or vault, the proposed law mandates that the remains of the two must be kept in distinct containers.
The bill will next be heard in the Senate Appropriations Committee. No date has yet been scheduled.
Working its way through the Legislature, the bill, notably, received unanimous votes in support.
“Through this bill, we are providing families with the opportunity to keep their furry family close to them in death, just as they were in life,” Ms. Irwin said in the bill analysis.
Based on a 2023 survey conducted by the American Veterinary Medical Association approximately 16 million California residents are pet owners.
New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Florida have already passed various bills allowing co-burial of humans and pets after a commentary piece published by NPR in 2017 raised awareness of the practice.
The article highlighted the concept of “whole-family cemeteries,” emphasizing the growing recognition of pets as members of the family. The article pointed out that the practice dates as far back as 14,000 years ago.
However, others, said some might see such as unconventional and could raise religious or custom-related concerns.
Judy Faaberg, of Washington Cemetery, Cremation & Funeral Association, wrote an article against a similar bill that was proposed in 2009 in Washington state.
“Try going back to the families who in good faith bought their graves in the knowledge that it was people-only,” Ms. Faaberg wrote. “Try telling people of various religious faiths who believe various animals are anathema. Try telling your family member who is deathly afraid of dogs that, sorry, there’s a good chance you’re going to be buried next to a dog.”
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Sophie Li

Sophie Li

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Sophie Li is a Southern California-based reporter covering local daily news, state policies, and breaking news for The Epoch Times. Besides writing, she is also passionate about reading, photography, and tennis.

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