Most pet owners consider their pets a part of the family. It’s a grim day when our furry companions cross the Rainbow Bridge and we need to make burial plans. Cremation is an option for those folks who live in a rental and may not want to leave Rover to the fate of being disinterred during a future landscaping project.  

The most common burial is in the backyard of the family home. But is it legal? We live in an era of zoning ordinances and health codes that can’t be taken for granted. The last thing a grieving pet owner needs is to be fined for improper disposal of an animal carcass that some nosey neighbor witnessed while peering from their kitchen window. 

1240 WJIM AM logo
Get our free mobile app

So, Can I Bury My Dog In My Backyard In Michigan? 

The answer is yes, but there are certain rules that you must follow, or you might be guilty of a misdemeanor and a stiff fine. The fine is a minimum of $300 or imprisonment for a minimum of 30 days. So, theoretically, you could be housed with a homicide suspect, in the county jail, for a month for burying your dog improperly. 

To avoid this grim unpaid leave, here are the basic guidelines for burying your pets. 

Individual graves must be: 

  • At least 2 feet beneath the natural surface. 
  • Separated by a minimum of 2.5 feet. 
  • Closed within 24 hours of opening 

If you considered giving your beloved companion a Viking funeral, placing their body on a small wooden rowboat, and setting it aflame, you’re out of luck. According to Dale W. Rozeboom, Department of Animal Science, Michigan State University, 

Burial sites must have no contact with bodies of water; both surface and ground, and must be at least 200 feet from wells.

If cremation is your choice of giving your pet an honorable passing, there are a number of pet cremation services in Southwest Michigan. There are even funeral homes that will cremate and hold services.

A Pet at a funeral
The Good Funeral Guide/Unsplash

In Kalamazoo, Fur-Ever Loved Pet Services, in partnership with Langeland Funeral Homes, will cremate your pet, and conduct a viewing and a memorial service. At Kempf Family Funeral and Cremation Services, in Battle Creek, their website reassures, 

Your pet will be cremated alone and in an enclosed chamber. After the cremation, the cremains will be collected with care and either given to you or placed in our memorial garden. 

An extensive guide to the laws surrounding animal burials can be found at this link. It’s a sad task, but now is the time to form a plan on how to part with your furry companion when that moment arrives.

LOOK: Here Are 30 Foods That Are Poisonous to Dogs

To prepare yourself for a potential incident, always keep your vet's phone number handy, along with an after-hours clinic you can call in an emergency. The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center also has a hotline you can call at (888) 426-4435 for advice.

Even with all of these resources, however, the best cure for food poisoning is preventing it in the first place. To give you an idea of what human foods can be dangerous, Stacker has put together a slideshow of 30 common foods to avoid. Take a look to see if there are any that surprise you.

Check out these 50 fascinating facts about dogs: