The issue was brought to light when a former New York City police officer Thomas Ryan said he wanted to be cremated and buried in Hartsdale Pet Cemetery in Westchester, N.Y., alongside his predeceased wife, Bunny, and the couple's three Maltese pups.
Though Hartsdale, which claims to be the oldest pet cemetery in the country, had been accepting human remains for decades, the Department of State stepped in and refused to allow Ryan's ashed to be buried there.
Ryan's niece, Taylor York, an upstate lawyer, took up her uncle's cause after his death in 2011 and successfully persuaded officials to allow Hartsdale permission to bury her uncle's ashes, the New York Daily News said.
Now, state funeral regulators have reversed course entirely and will permit all six of the state's licensed pet cemeteries to accept human ashes for burial alongside a family pet.
Hartsdale owner Ed Martin said he gets about six requests for human burial every year and he plans to be buried there, alongside his dog and three other pets.
"A pet relationship, some believe, including me, is a different relationship," Martin said. "They are only with you a very short period of time, compared to a human life, and you grow very close to them."
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