News Europe

Saturday 16 December 2017

No grave concern about bringing your animals into the afterlife

Alastair Jamieson

From ancient Egyptian pharaohs to Anglo-Saxon warriors, humans have been buried alongside their most sacred or treasured animals.

Now the practice is making a comeback with an increasing number of pet owners seeking burials with their favourite cats, dogs and even horses.

Planners in Lincolnshire in eastern England last week approved the latest in a series of joint animal and human cemeteries, some of which even allow pets and owners to be buried in the same plot.

The trend has been accelerated by the growth in "natural" sites for humans, which use biodegradable coffins and often have woodland settings without fixed lines of plots, making it easier to add pets.

Penny Lally, who runs a pet crematorium, cemetery and "woodland burial place" in Penwith, west Cornwall, has laid to rest more than 30 owners alongside their animals since she began allowing joint graves in 2003 and has more than 120 forward bookings.

Among her best customers is Carole Mundy, 54, who has reserved a plot for herself and her husband Robert right next to their 17-year-old golden retriever, Dylan, who was buried there in February 2008.

The human resources consultant has spent £2,800 (€3,192) on the plot for Dylan, herself and husband Robert and £650 (€741) on reserving space for Merlin, her Irish thoroughbred horse. Her other dogs Sir Lancelot, Queen Guinevere and Sir Galahad are also expected to end up in the same cemetery.

"As well as being the best dog in the world, Dylan was a fantastic friend and I don't see why he shouldn't have the same resting place as me," she said. "Animals give you unconditional love, they don't reprimand or judge you."

Wendy Pratt, the manager of the Tarn Moor Memorial Woodland 'natural' burial suite in North Yorkshire, said one woman was interred in the joint pet and owner area because "she just liked cats".

Unlike human cemeteries, Britain's 19 pet burial sites require regular inspection by the Environment Agency acting on behalf of the Department for the Environment and Rural Affairs.

Only a handful of those offer joint burials, the first of which began in Rossendale, Lancs in 1995. Elaine Pendlebury, a veterinary surgeon with UK animal charity PDSA, said: "It is something that wouldn't have been considered 30 or 40 years ago but we are hearing of more occasions where owners want to be buried with their pet."

Animal burial has an ancient history. The pharaohs of ancient Egypt were buried alongside cats, monkeys and birds because they believed animals shared an afterlife with humans. Anglo-Saxon nobles were usually interred with their possessions, including their horses. The practice fell out of favour with the rise of Christianity, although the 19th century saw the creation of a pet cemetery in London's Hyde Park.

© Telegraph

Sunday Independent

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