Controversy over pet cemetery's 'no people' rule

By Jennifer Lipman, June 14, 2011

A New York woman is engaged in a dispute with state authorities after they ruled that people should not be buried in the same cemeteries as their pets.

Rhona Levy, 61, has long planned to be cremated and have her ashes buried next to her five pets at Hartsdale Pet Cemetery, in Westchester. The site is described as "America's first and most prestigious pet burial grounds".

Ms Levy, who considers her pets as if they were her children, had already made all the necessary arrangements. Four of her pets - Snow, Putchke, Pumpkin and Twinkie - are already buried there and there is a plot ready for the fifth.

But after it emerged in February that the human ashes of some 700 people were interred at Hartsdale alongside 75,000 animals, the New York cemetery division ruled that the practise had to come to an end.

They said that because it costs to bury pets in Hartsdale, the joint cemetery violated a law requiring burial businesses to be non-profit.

Ed Martin Jr, the cemetery's director, called the ruling "ridiculous".

If Ms Levy does not successfully challenge the law, she can at least take comfort in the other names who are buried at Hartsdale, including Sirius, who lost his life in September 11 as part of a search-and-rescue team, and Mariah Carey's cat.

Last updated: 2:41pm, June 14 2011