ALBANY — Pet owners can now spend eternity in the dog house.
A new regulation unveiled by the state this month would allow pet cemeteries in New York to accept the cremated remains of human beings hoping to be buried forever beside their beloved family pets.
The new rules resolve a two-year-old dispute that began when the state refused to allow the Hartsdale Pet Cemetery in Westchester to accept the ashes of a former NYPD officer who wanted to spend his afterlife with his three Maltese pups.
The cop’s niece, upstate attorney Taylor York, took on her uncle’s cause and battled the state to allow the burial.
“People do get a sense of comfort from knowing they can lie for eternity with their beloved pet, that they can be loved and protected in the afterlife just as faithfully as when they were alive,” York said.
York’s campaign began when her uncle, retired NYPD officer Thomas Ryan, died in 2011 and New York Department of State barred the Hartsdale Cemetery from accepting his ashes.
The 117-year-old Hartsdale cemetery, which claims to be the oldest final pet resting place in the country, had been interring cremated human remains since the the 1920s and had already buried the remains of Ryan’s wife, Bunny, beside the couples three Maltese dogs, DJ 1, DJ 2 and DJ 3.
“They didn’t have any children,” York said. “Each (Maltese), was their pride and joy.”
But when it came time for Ryan to rest beside his wife and dogs, the state said no, asserting that state law prohibited Hartsdale from handling human remains.
“I am not sure what prompted it,” said Hartsdale owner Ed Martin. “The whole thing, as far as I was concerned was a silly matter.”
Martin said the pet cemetery gets about five or six requests a year from pet owners to have their ashes buried with their dogs, cats, birds or other companions.
He estimates the ashes of about 700 people were already under the soil in the cemetery when the state stepped in.
“A pet relationship, some believe, including me, is a different relationship,” said Martin, who also plans to have his ashes interred at the cemetery with those of his dog and three other pets.
“They are only with you a very short period of time, compared to a human life, and you grow very close to them,” Martin said.