You can bury your husband. You can bury your dog.
You just can’t bury them together.
But that soon might change.
Standing Rock Cemetery in Kent, Ohio, is planning to allow pet burials on the property beginning in the spring.
The decision to co-mingle pets and humans in the same cemetery has attracted plenty of attention since it became public on Tuesday. Most cemeteries nationwide provide plots for one or the other.
Kingwood Memorial Park cemetery in Lewis Center had planned to create a separate area for pets a few years ago.
“The bond between pets and people is greater than ever,” said Randy Schoedinger, chief executive officer of Schoedinger Funeral and Cremation Service in central Ohio, which used to operate Kingwood.
Jack Lee Harris, general manager of Kingwood, said the company currently managing the cemetery has no plans to add a pet section.
The idea has been discussed at Green Lawn Cemetery in Columbus as well, but general manager Linda Burkey said at least one trustee always opposes it.
Some cemeteries are becoming more flexible.
Jefferson Memorial Cemetery in Pittsburgh allows people to be buried near or in the same plot as their pets in their Garden of Faithful Friends.
“We are in the burying business, and if people wish to bury their pet, shouldn’t we provide that service?” said Harry Neel, president of Jefferson Memorial.
The cost to bury people there is $925 for the plot and $1,195 for the service. Burying a pet in its own plot costs $350 to $1,410, depending on the animal’s size.
Both pets and humans must be buried in caskets or alternative containers.
The state of New York this spring is expected to issue rules that would allow people’s cremated remains to be buried in pet cemeteries.
“Society has changed and its attitude toward pets has changed,” said Vicki Hunsaker, a pet bereavement specialist for CSW Farms Crematorium & Memorial in western Franklin County. “A lot of pet owners consider the pet a family member.”
Retired Columbus Police Sgt. Earl W. Smith and his late wife, Wanda, felt that way about their golden retriever, Samantha.
The couple, who had no children, promised each other after Samantha died that they would bury her ashes with whoever died first.
Four years later, Mrs. Smith died, and her husband honored their promise, placing the dog’s ashes in his wife’s coffin.
“I take some comfort in the thought that they’re together,” he said.
Traditional funeral companies have realized that pets make good business.
Randy Schoedinger started Pet Services by Schoedinger in 1995 to handle pet cremations, burials and memorial services.
Woodyard Pet Services, an offshoot of O.R. Woodyard Funeral Home, offers individual cremation of pets as well as a Pet Memory Kit with a fur clipping, an engraved wooden urn, and an online tribute of the pet’s life.
That level of devotion to pets doesn’t surprise Tom Nicastro, whose Pet Heaven Cemetery on Rt. 40 in Reynoldsburg is the only pet cemetery in the Columbus area.
“I’ve had many people say they want to be buried with their pet — more than you’d think,” he said.
One man has bought a plot next to his dog’s plot where he’s asked that his own ashes be buried some day.
“We said that’s fine, but as far as full-body burial, I tell people I don’t want to compete with people cemeteries,” said Nicastro, who also operates a pet cemetery in Mansfield.
Nicastro has buried a horse, a monkey, white rats, birds and ferrets as well.
“It’s not just shoveling and a piece of dirt,” he said. “This was a member of a person’s family, and that’s the way we treat them.”