Washington state seeks to force cemeteries to bury pets with their humans
Here's one, as my friend Todd Van Beck would say.
A Washington state Senator has proposed a bill that in essence forces cemeteries to accept the remains of cats and dogs "in any state of decomposition" and bury them with their humans.
Now we all realize there's an interest in dabbling in pet cemeteries. For example, an unrelated article in the Seattle Times earlier this week says that in Seattle there are 45 percent more dogs than there are children. Obviously, we love us some pets. There must be a heckuva marketing opportunity there.
Coincidentally, along comes state Senator Jacobsen, who last year introduced a bill that would allow bars and restaurants with liquor licenses to admit dogs, with their owners in tow.Obviously, Jacobsen loves him some pets. That one went down.
In memory of his much beloved and now-deceased cat, Jacobsen thought it was time to expand cemeteries' occupancy to include pets.
The association that employs me, the Washington Cemetery & Funeral Association, is going on record in opposition of the senate bill. The first section says that cemeteries... "must allow the burial of pet remains in the same cemetery in which the pet's owner is buried in either: (a) An established and operating area of the cemetery; or (b) a section of the cemetery designated solely for the commingling and burial of pet remains and human remains."
Further, the bill says that "'Pet remains' means the body of a deceased cat or dog, includes the body in any stage of decomposition, and includes cremated remains."
Now, anyone who knows me knows that I have a standard Poodle named Beaujolais who is my constant companion and whom I adore. It would be cool to have her remains buried with me, in whatever state of decomposition we find her when I shuffle off this mortal coil.
However. Cemeteries in this state are formed for the purpose of the burial "of the human dead." And so it states in their declarations.
Try going back to the families who in good faith bought their graves in the knowledge that it was people-only. 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.
Try changing your charter to allow dogs and cats (as included in the current proposal) or any other animal one seeks to be interred with. Horses? Turkeys? Shrews?
We have several pet cemeteries in Washington. One owner who operates both a pet cemetery AND a people cemetery, David Bielski, was "shocked" by the bill, according to the Times. He thinks, as does the WCFA, "that's opening a whole can of worms that people don't really want to get into." Nevermind the reference to worms, it's a whole subject we don't want to get into.
So off we go to Olympia on Monday January 19 to see if we can shoot down this well-intentioned but intrusive (not to mention absurd) proposal.
Wish us luck!