When a pet dies, parents often want to give the animal a funeral so their
children can “memorialize” the pet as a member of the family. In many parts of
the country, it is illegal to bury a pet because the body may attract scavengers
such as rats. In these jurisdictions, the family’s veterinarian disposes of the
Because I live in an area that prohibits animal burials, I encourage families to
still have a memorial service, only in this case they bury a memento instead of
the pet. Children can pick a favorite toy, a picture, or even write a poem or
heartwarming anecdote about the animal. This approach follows community rules,
but lets children have some closure regarding their pet’s death.
— Howard J. Bennett, M.D.