Can you dig it?

Dear Ace: Is it O.K. if I bury my dead pet in my backyard?—Digger Upgraves
Digger: Ace would be happy to give his own seal of approval, if only this question didn’t concern him so. He realizes, in his infinite wisdom, that you may be one of those “Type A” people, and you’re simply always overly prepared, thus feeling the need to inquire in advance of the need. But (and this is the part that concerns Ace), maybe your pet is already dead and you’re simply sitting there with it not knowing what to do. Now, Ace tries not to judge, but that carcass will start to smell like, well, something the cat dragged in. And Ace can’t have that kind of stink held over his head.

In dogged pursuit of some answers, Ace contacted Read Brodhead at the city Zoning Administration, who said that as far as he knows, there’s nothing in the code against burying your deceased animal in your backyard. But what, Ace asked him, does someone who is renting do when a pet dies? Surprisingly, Read wasn’t sure, but he did bring up a good point.

“Usually, the animal doesn’t die at the home,” he told Ace. The pet might, in some cases, be run over and thus picked up by Public Works. Or, the animal dies at the vet’s office. In cases like these, the owner has the option to take his pet home and bury it, or the SPCA can come pick it up to perform a cremation. Still, having recently lost Jezabelle, an Atkins family feline, Ace wanted to know what those with wounded hearts and caring natures could do in the way of a funeral service.

Ace dug up the number for Riverview Cemetery, a pet cemetery in Belmont, knowing they could help. It turns out, they don’t usually conduct funeral services for deceased pets (they mostly specialize in the burial aspect of the biz), but informed Ace that they would certainly be able to do so, if that’s what the family wanted.

So, here’s the moral of this tail: You can bury your dead pet in your backyard, or you can have someone else do it for you. But whatever you decide, do it quickly. In this case, Ace thinks it best not to hold your horses (so to speak).

You can ask Ace yourself. Intrepid investigative reporter Ace Atkins has been chasing readers’ leads for 18 years. If you have a question for Ace, e-mail it to

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