Pet lovers celebrate their animals' birthdays, take them on family vacations and even include them in their wills. So it shouldn't come as a surprise that people would want to spend the afterlife with their furry friends.
However, in most cemeteries, pet remains aren't welcome. But a bill on its way to Virginia's House of Delegates could change that, at least in one state.
Republican lawmaker Israel D. O'Quinn has submitted a bill to Virginia's General Assembly that would allow pets and their owners to be buried together.
Currently, the state's code defines a cemetery as "any land or structure used or intended to be used for the interment of human remains."
Recognizing that some people wouldn’t want to be buried alongside an animal, O'Quinn's bill specifies that human-pet burials would be segregated from traditional gravesites.
"Some people have an extreme aversion to animals, and others have a strong affection for them," he told The Washington Post. "There are some people who do not want pets or any furry animal buried near them, and that is their right."
The places a person can be buried with their pet in the U.S. are few. Hillcrest Memorial Park in Pennsylvania allows it, as Dulaney Valley Memorial Gardens in Baltimore, Md.
New York only recently allowed human ashes to buried in pet cemeteries, a practice that’s also legal in New Jersey.
The trend of pet burials has grown over the past decade.
There are about 700 pet aftercare facilities, including funeral homes, crematories and cemeteries, in the country. According to Bloomberg Businessweek, it’s a growing segment of the pet care industry, which brought in $52.87 billion in 2011.
Industry experts say allowing people to be buried with their cats, dogs and other beloved companion animals is simply the next logical step.
Related on MNN:
- 6 pet cemeteries to explore?
- Is there such a thing as green pet burial?
- How much do you know about these headline-grabbing pets?