Why are there so few pet cemeteries about?
It is true that if you wish to bury your pet in a cemetery then you may have to travel a considerable distance to find one. This is not very convenient if you want to visit the grave regularly and it can be very frustrating for bereaved pet owners.
A pet cemetery must run as a viable business if pet owners are to be protected against future closure. Unfortunately the demand for pet burial is small so that a cemetery will normally be attached to another business such as a pet crematorium, boarding kennels or cattery. Those entrepreneurs who thought they would turn over a field for a pet cemetery business quickly found that it was impossible to run as a stand alone business and pet owners with plots found they no longer had access to the graves which were left to grow over. Although the demand is small it is not necessarily the reason for the shortage of facilities as many places would be keen to have a cemetery in place for pet owners in their area. However, changes in legislation have made this almost impossible and have resulted in many existing cemeteries closing down.
The law states that if a pet animal is to be buried then it must be carried out under the regulations for waste and burial must be in a licensed site. The only exception to this is if you are burying a pet at home and then it must be in the property where it last lived. All pet cemeteries have to be licensed as waste landfill sites although they can and should be specifically licensed to bury only companion animals. This requires authorisation by Environmental Permit issued by the Environment Agency. To be fair to the authorities they have recently shown they understand the plight of pet cemeteries. The Association of Private Pet Cemeteries & crematoria has worked closely with them to produce a sensible system of licensing together with reasonable operating fees.
In the past this has not always been the case and cemeteries have been under threat from having to put in the same facilities as large municipal waste plants and from levels of licensing fees that amounted to more than the yearly turnover. Some cemeteries that were not members of our Association took fright and closed down. The APPCC have patiently worked with the Government to produce a fair solution.
This year the requirement for qualifications in order to receive and maintain an Environmental Permit may prove one burden too many for some cemeteries. The Association produces the only definitive manuals for the operation of Pet Cemeteries & Crematoria. However the system the government have set up is dominated by two training agencies for the waste industry. The cost is very high for courses that have no content that is useful in running a pet bereavement facility. This will discourage more people from setting up or continuing to run pet cemeteries. In order to set a standard acceptable to the authorities but that will also ensure our facilities are run properly the APPCC need to set up qualifications based on their own courses. They would like to hear from anyone involved in National Vocational Qualifications who would be interested to work with them on this project.
It is unlikely that small local cemeteries will ever reappear. Most people will still have to make a journey to find one that is large enough to operate successfully and we must hope that future problems can be resolved to keep this option open for pet owners everywhere.
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