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Pet Home Burial Instructions

memorial services
Home burial pet
pet euthanasia
  1. Review and familiarize yourself with the enclosed copy of Washington State laws regarding pet burial included in your folder left with you we will leave with you at your appointment. ​

  2. Check your county ordinances for restrictions. Consider whether you own the property on which you intend to bury your pet. If you do not own the property (for example if you are a renter), obtain permission from the property owner

  3. Consider environmental factors. Does your desired burial location have tree roots, and/or rocks that will make digging difficult.

  4. Consider future additions when choosing a location.

  5. Call your local utilities office to come mark your yard. There may be gas lines or water lines buried underground.

  6. If you need to delay the burial, you may want to place your pet’s body in an airtight plastic container and put your pet in a refrigerator or freezer.

  7. Wrap your loved one in a small blanket, t-shirt, or pillow case made of a biodegradable fiber such as 100% cotton. Avoid any kind of plastic, synthetic fibers or synthetic fiber blends. You may or may not decide to use a cardboard box as a casket. Biodegradable pet caskets and biodegradable urns are available. Wood urns are acceptable for this purpose. These can be purchased through your local crematory or ordered online.  Before placing the order, verify the size you will need.

  8. Many people like to bury flowers, a special pet toy or other meaningful object  with the pet.

  9. An adequate depth for burial is four to five feet. This is deep enough to prevent other animals investigating the area. At least three feet of soil should be on top of the body. 

  10. If you elect to have your pet cremated then buried, using an organic soil mixture along with the cremains will create a nutrient-rich mixture that will benefit the earth and help plants around the burial site flourish. (Burying cremains with no mixture can be too concentrated in carbon to allow for proper growth).

When handling deceased pets’ remains:​

    • Wear protective clothing.

    • Wear disposable rubber or plastic gloves while handling remains.

    • Wear a protective mask to prevent the inhalation of fungal spores.

    • All clothing worn while handling remains should be scrubbed with soap, detergent, or bleach.

  1. ​Use a headstone, decorative piece, tree, or flowering shrub to discourage digging. If you plant a tree or shrub over the grave, be sure the original hole is extra deep to allow for the root ball and a thick layer of dirt for the roots to grow.

  2. Remember, if euthanasia medications were administered, a pet’s body is deadly to other pets and wild animals if consumed.

  3. Consider creating a memorial display (a nice option for family with children). Ask kids to find objects around the yard to decorate the grave. Provide each child with a collection bag and ask them to collect – shells, flowers, feathers, bark, acorns, leaves, twigs, stones, berries, and keepsake objects such as leashes, collars, and even pictures or drawings made in honor of your pet. Touching, smelling, and assembling a memorial display of their own in honor of a dear friend teaches respect for the dead and the family grave site. It reaffirms the importance of the loss to the family as a whole.

  4. Many people find it comforting to hold a small memorial ceremony at the graveside.  It can be good for the soul to hear other’s memories and favorite attributes your recently departed friend. This can be the beautiful final farewell your pet deserves.

Washington State Laws on Home burial

WAC 246-203-121

Disposal of dead animals


(1) Definitions  For the purpose of this regulation the following definitions apply:

(a) "Burial" means completely covering with soil in a manner and location not requiring a permit for a landfill under chapter 70.95 RCW, Solid waste management—Reduction and recycling.

(b) "Composting" means a process of controlled aerobic decomposition in compliance with chapter 70.95 RCW, Solid waste management—Reduction and recycling.

(c) "Dead animal" means the carcass or tissue from an animal, large or small, except part of an animal used for food or other beneficial purpose in accordance with federal, state, and local laws and regulations. "Dead animal" does not mean a fish or other primarily aquatic animal.

(d) "Incineration" means controlled and monitored combustion for the purposes of volume reduction and pathogen destruction in an enclosed device approved by the department of ecology or the local air pollution control authority under chapter 70.94 RCW, Washington Clean Air Act, and chapter 70.95 RCW, Solid waste management—Reduction and recycling.

(e) "Landfilling" means a process of disposal at a permitted facility where solid waste is permanently placed in or on land in compliance with rules adopted by the department of ecology under chapter 70.95 RCW, Solid waste management—Reduction and recycling.

(f) "Livestock" means horses, mules, donkeys, cattle, bison, sheep, goats, swine, rabbits, llamas, alpacas, ratites, poultry, waterfowl, game birds, or other species according to RCW 16.36.005.

(g) "Natural decomposition" means natural decay on the surface of the ground without cover material.

(h) "Rendering" means heat processing according to requirements under chapter 16.68 RCW, Disposal of dead animals.

(2) Disposal methods

(a) Within seventy-two hours after death or discovery, the owner of a dead animal or, if the owner of the animal cannot be identified, the owner of the property on which the animal is found must properly dispose of the dead animal. A dead animal must be covered or otherwise removed from public view immediately upon discovery by the person responsible for disposing of the dead animal.

(b) The person responsible for disposal of a dead animal must dispose of it in a manner so as not to become a public or common nuisance or cause pollution of surface or groundwater.

(c) The person responsible for disposal of a dead animal must dispose of it by burial, landfilling, incineration, composting, rendering, or another method approved by the local health officer (such as natural decomposition) that is not otherwise prohibited by federal, state, or local law or regulation.

(d) A person disposing of a dead animal by burial must place it so that every part is covered by at least three feet of soil; at a location not less than one hundred feet from any well, spring, stream or other surface waters; not in a low-lying area subject to seasonal flooding or within a one hundred-year flood plain; and not in a manner likely to contaminate groundwater.

(e) A person disposing of a dead animal must not bury or compost it within the sanitary control area of a public drinking water supply source as designated under chapter 246-290 WAC, Public water supplies, or chapter 246-291 WAC, Group B public water systems.

(f) The local health officer may specify the method of disposal for a dead animal if:

(i) The animal died with a communicable disease transmissible to humans; or

(ii) The local health officer considers a public health emergency to exist.

(g) The provisions of RCW 16.36.092 and chapter 16-25 WAC supersede the provisions of this regulation for the disposal of a livestock animal that has died because of disease or unknown cause

June 2019

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