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Lawyer Threatens Suit After NY Bars Burial of Human Ashes in Pet Cemeteries

Posted Jun 14, 2011 5:30 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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A state agency in New York has thwarted some pet owners’ burial plans after issuing an order barring pet cemeteries from accepting human ashes.

More people are requesting burials next to their pets, but New York’s Division of Cemeteries has a problem with that practice, the Associated Press reports.

The agency acted, partly because human cemeteries have more protections, including a state-mandated fund to ensure permanent maintenance of the cemeteries. Also, human cemeteries in the state must be operated as not-for-profit corporations.

Taylor York, a lawyer and a criminal justice professor at Keuka College, told AP she would file suit, if necessary. “There’s no authority for this board to just arbitrarily impose nonprofit corporation law on a privately incorporated for-profit business,” she said.

The Division of Cemeteries order has interfered with plans by her late uncle, Thomas Ryan, to be buried next to his wife, Bunny, and their two dogs. Currently, his ashes are in a wooden box at his sister’s home. “My uncle wants to be buried beside his wife and what he considered to be his children, and I’m not letting anyone stand in the way,” York told the wire service.

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