When a beloved pet dies, many people consider burying their pet’s body in their backyard. However, if you choose to dispose of your pet in this manner, you need to be aware of state and local laws and regulations governing animal carcasses. Failure to comply with these rules can result in fines and possible jail time.
STATE RULES REGARDING BURIAL OF DEAD ANIMALS
All dead animals must be disposed of within 24 hours after death, and any animal that is disposed of by means of burial must be buried no less than 2 feet below the natural ground. MCL 287.671(2)(a). This does not apply, nor does it impose a responsibility on the individual, if the animals were “small mammals, cervidae, and birds, that are road kill.” MCL 287.671(3)(b).
Dead animals buried in individual graves must come in compliance with all of the following requirements:
- “The dead animal shall not come in contact with waters of the state.” Admin. Code R. 287.652(1)(a).
- “The number of individual graves per acre shall not be more than 100 and the total combined animal weight shall not be more than 5 tons per acre.” Admin. Code R. 287.652(1)(b).
- “Individual graves shall be separated by a minimum of 2 1/2 feet.” Admin. Code R. 287.652(1)(c).
- “A grave shall not be located within 200 feet of any existing groundwater well that is used to supply potable drinking water.” Admin. Code R. 287.652(1)(d).
- “The owner of the land has authorized the placement of the dead animal.” Admin. Code R. 287.652(1)(e).
Multiple dead animals buried in a common grave shall be in compliance with all of the following requirements:
- “Dead animals in a common grave shall be covered with at least 1 foot of soil within 24 hours of burial.” Admin. Code R. 287.652(2)(a).
- “A common grave shall not remain open for more than 30 days and shall receive not less than 2 feet of soil as final cover.” Admin. Code R. 287.652(2)(b).
- “Dead animals shall not come into contact with waters of the state.” Admin. Code R. 287.652(2)(c).
- “The total weight of dead animals in common graves shall not be more than 5,000 pounds per acre, and if there is more than 1 common grave per acre, each common grave within that acre shall be separated by a minimum of 100 feet.” Admin. Code R. 287.652(2)(d).
- “A common grave shall be located not less than 200 feet from any existing groundwater well that is used to supply potable drinking water.” Admin. Code R. 287.652(2)(e).
- “The owner of the land has authorized the placement of the dead animals.” Admin. Code R. 287.652(2)(f).
CRIMINAL PENALTIES FOR IMPROPER BURIAL OF ANIMALS
“A person who places a dead animal or part of the carcass of a dead animal into a lake, river, creek, pond, road, street, alley, lane, lot, field, meadow, or common, or in any place within 1 mile of the residence of a person, except the same and every part of the carcass is buried at least 4 feet underground, and the owner or owners thereof who knowingly permits the carcass or part of a carcass to remain in any of those places, to the injury of the health, or to the annoyance of another is guilty of a misdemeanor.” MCL 750.57.
“Every 24 hours that the owner permits the carcass or part of a carcass to remain after a conviction… is an additional misdemeanor [offense] punishable by a fine of not less than $50.00 or more than $500.00 or by imprisonment for not more than 90 days.” Id.
LOCAL ORDINANCES MAY PROVIDE FURTHER RESTRICTIONS
Even if your animal burial is allowed under state law, your city, township or village may have enacted a local ordinance that restricts or prohibits the burial of a pet or another animal on your property. Some cities and villages may ban it outright due to concerns about public health hazards, risks associated with digging (e.g. underground wires and pipes), or the chance that heavy rains or floods can caused the body to be unearthed and carried away. Depending on the municipality, the penalty for violating these ordinances can range from a civil infraction punishable by a fine to a misdemeanor that carries the risk of some jail time.
Always check with your local government before burying an animal on your property. If burial is not available, you can consider internment in a pet cemetery, cremation, or delivery of the body to your vet or animal control organization.
OUR LOCAL LAWYERS ARE AVAILABLE TO ANSWER YOUR QUESTIONS REGARDING ANIMAL BURIAL
If you have further questions about animal law and property law, or need legal representation, then do not hesitate to contact the experienced attorneys at Kershaw, Vititoe & Jedinak PLC for assistance today.