FAQ

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DOCUMENTS REFERRED TO IN FAQs:

Burial Right Certificate | Annual Care Contract | NYS Law | Cemetery Map

The death of a pet brings with it a very difficult decision, particularly if the loss is unexpected. That is the decision of how to handle your pet’s remains. Many do not think about this issue until their vet asks, What do you want to do with the body? Usually this very emotional time is not the best time to think calmly and rationally about all the options available. Unfortunately, this may lead to a hasty decision — and a decision that one may later regret.

The alternative is Pre-Need Planning. We pre-plan for our own death, therefore planning for our pet makes just as much sense. It’s a responsible way of being prepared when that time comes. Pre-planning allows you to make better choices, alleviates stress at a very emotional time and it allows you to prepare financially.

No. Hartsdale Pet Cemetery has more than adequate land for burials well into the future.

Although our legal corporate name is Hartsdale Canine Cemetery, Inc., we bury all pet animals. The word canine became part of the corporate name of the Cemetery simply because the first pet to be buried here was a dog.

Although dogs and cats are the most prevalent species of animals attended to at Hartsdale, other pets, including birds, reptiles and even a lion cub, are among those represented.

We encourage you to make arrangements with us for a funeral and/or memorial service. For many families, having a service provides some healing and closure in a very difficult time. Others opt out and prefer to remember their pet when he or she was alive. There is no right or wrong answer – it is what is right for you and your family. Services at Hartsdale can be as simple or elaborate as you want them to be. While losing a pet is heart breaking, we can help you make this farewell both meaningful and personal.

There are a number of safeguards to ensure that Hartsdale Pet Cemetery will always remain a pet cemetery.

  1. Land Ownership – All right, title and interest in the land that makes up Hartsdale Pet Cemetery is held solely by this corporation. There are no leases, liens or encumbrances against our land whatsoever that could jeopardize the interests of our plot-holders.
  2. Deed Restriction – The deed for the land owned by Hartsdale Pet Cemetery has been legally restricted to ensure that our historic burial ground will never be used as anything other than a beautiful and dignified resting place for pet animals.
  3. Listing on National Register – Hartsdale Pet Cemetery is the only pet cemetery listed in the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Registry of Historic Places. Such a designation provides additional protection that makes it very difficult for a governmental agency to exercise its eminent domain power to seize private property.
  4. Irrevocable Trust Funds – Hartsdale Pet Cemetery maintains two irrevocable trust funds which protect the land against foreclosure or abandonment. However, the mere fact that a cemetery has established a trust fund for perpetual care does not ensure the continuation of the cemetery if that fund is not sufficient and/or is not protected adequately. Hartsdale’s trust funds were created in the 1920’s and have the benefit of time to mature and accumulate substantial assets. Currently, Hartsdale’s trust fund assets are more than five-hundred times the minimum that is legally required for pet cemeteries in New York State. As an additional safeguard, the trust funds are managed by a large, multi-national bank that acts as the independent custodian and trustee. Hartsdale is merely the income beneficiary of the trust funds and is not permitted to withdraw principal.
  5. Historical Significance – Established in 1896, Hartsdale Pet Cemetery is the first pet cemetery in the United States. It is the only pet cemetery listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It is the home of the famous War Dog Memorial, the first memorial that pays tribute to the canine heroes that served so nobly in World War I. Hartsdale enjoys worldwide media exposure regularly. In many ways, the Hartsdale Pet Cemetery is a national treasure that should remain for all future generations to visit.

For more than 120 years, customers have placed their trust in Hartsdale. Our reputation and integrity is unmatched. There are a number of factors that help to ensure that this confidence continues.

  1. Reputation – Established in 1896, the Hartsdale Pet Cemetery is the oldest operating pet cemetery in the world. As such, we carry a heavy responsibility to set the standard for every other pet cemetery in the world. That standard is very high and we thrive on this challenge. The International Association of Pet Cemeteries & Crematories has said, “Throughout its exemplary history, Hartsdale is and always has been a much sought-after role model for cemeteries worldwide.”
  2. Family-Operated – Hartsdale Pet Cemetery has been under the direction of the Martin family for over forty years.
  3. Experience – We are proud that employee retention is very high at Hartsdale. Most of our employees have been with us for over 20 years and some have been here for almost 40 years. Most of us have loved and lost pets. Therefore, we know all too well the grief that our plot-holders feel when they lose a pet. Ever since that fateful day in 1896 when Hartsdale’s founder Dr. Samuel Johnson performed a simple act of kindness for a grieving friend, Hartsdale Pet Cemetery has provided compassion and comfort by treating your pet with the same care and dignity as if he/she was our own.
  4. Government Regulation – Unlike human cemeteries, pet cemeteries are largely unregulated. However, New York State passed legislation in 1991 that regulates pet cemeteries, pet crematories and veterinarians. The purpose of these laws is to instill consumer confidence by establishing standards and procedures. See NYS Consolidated Laws: General Business Law: Article 35-C; Section 750. We are proud that legislators consulted with us during the drafting of these laws using Hartsdale’s procedures as a model for the bill that eventually passed.
  5. IAOPCC Member – The International Association of Pet Cemeteries and Crematories (IAOPCC) represents the gold standard in both business and ethics in the aftercare industry. Selecting a pet cemetery that is a member of the IAOPCC gives you assurance that you are dealing with a reputable pet cemetery that offers the finest in the aftercare of your pet. Members are expected to follow a strict code of ethics at the highest standard. For more information please visit www.iaopcc.com
  6. Accredited BBB Member – As a member of the Better Business Bureau, Hartsdale has maintained its preferred status as an Accredited Business since 1996.

Hartsdale Pet Cemetery or The Peaceable Kingdom as it has come to be known by its tranquil beauty takes pride in maintaining its grounds to the highest standards possible. This is accomplished by performing general maintenance. General maintenance covers the basic operating expenses of Hartsdale Pet Cemetery. These expenses include but are not limited to grass cutting, leaf and snow removal, tree and path maintenance, purchase of tools and equipment to perform said maintenance as well as payment of salaries and employee benefits to the staff who perform the maintenance. General maintenance does not include any flower plantings, holiday decorations or monument repairs.

Yes. Under New York State law and Hartsdale’s Burial Right Certificate plot-holders are required to pay for their proportionate share of the overall general maintenance of the Cemetery. Hartsdale Pet Cemetery maintains its grounds with the highest standards possible. It simply is not good enough that Hartsdale is operated in a manner merely so that it will continue to exist. The standard set in 1896 by Hartsdale’s founding father, Dr. Samuel Johnson was that Hartsdale should be operated in a manner that will allow it to remain the premier burial grounds in the world – pet or human. The only way that that goal can be achieved is to ensure that there are enough funds to pay for the high level of maintenance that the plot-holders of Hartsdale have come to expect. Since Hartsdale Pet Cemetery exists solely for its plot-holders, it follows that the source of those funds should come from the party who is most interested in the maintenance and beauty of Hartsdale – the plot-holders.

Under New York State law and Hartsdale’s Burial Right Certificate plot-holders are provided with two alternatives to satisfy the general maintenance obligation: (1) purchase Perpetual General Care (i.e., endowment); or (2) enter into a contract for annual general maintenance.

  1. Perpetual General Care – Plot-holders electing to purchase Perpetual General Care make a one-time, lump-sum payment to the Perpetual Care Trust Fund. Once the required amount has been paid no further payment for general maintenance is necessary and the plot-holder will have peace of mind knowing that his or her plot will be a permanent part of Hartsdale Pet Cemetery.
    Hartsdale’s Perpetual Care Trust Fund is an irrevocable trust fund that protects the land against foreclosure or abandonment. It was created in 1921 and has accumulated substantial assets over time to ensure the future maintenance of Hartsdale. The Fund is managed by JPMorgan Chase, who acts as the independent trustee. The trustee invests the principal and remits the earnings derived from the principal to Hartsdale in perpetuity. Hartsdale is merely the income beneficiary of the trust fund and is not permitted to withdraw the principal.
  2. Annual General Care – Although Hartsdale urges all plot-holders to purchase Perpetual Care, the reality is that not all plot-holders have the financial means to do so. Hartsdale’s long-standing philosophy has been to make burial affordable to all. Making Perpetual Care mandatory defeats that purpose. Therefore, both New York State law and Hartsdale’s Burial Right Certificate provide an alternative. In lieu of Perpetual Care plot-holders may enter into an annual maintenance contract whereby they agree to remit relatively modest payments for general maintenance on an annual basis.

Under New York State law and Hartsdale’s Burial Right Certificate plot-holders are required to pay for their proportionate share of the overall general maintenance of the Cemetery. Most plot-holders who enter into the Annual Care Contract abide by its terms. However, some do not. New York State law authorizes a pet cemetery to terminate the rights of a plot-holder in such a situation after proper notice when the maintenance fee is in arrears for more than 180 days (NYS Consolidated Laws: GBL Article 35-C; Section 750-q). Furthermore, New York State authorizes a pet cemetery to remove any remains in the plot and dispose of them either by mass cremation or mass burial.

The terms set forth on Hartsdale’s Burial Right Certificate and Annual Care Contract are far less restrictive than New York State and call for plot forfeiture after three years of non-payment. Simply stated, Hartsdale does not want any plot-holder to lose his or her plot. In fact, every effort is made to accommodate delinquent plotholders including generous payment plans that permit payment to be deferred.

However, not all plots can be saved. Some may view this as insensitive until one considers the potentially devastating consequences. If Hartsdale – or any pet cemetery – chose not to take the action required by New York State or the Burial Right Certificate it would jeopardize the interests of all of the plot-holders who have already paid their proportionate share of the general maintenance. This would result in a serious diminution in the overall maintenance and beauty of the Cemetery. That was not the intent of the founders of Hartsdale nor is it the desire of all the plot-holders who have chosen Hartsdale.

In order to avoid plot forfeiture from occurring, Hartsdale urges all plot-holders to purchase Perpetual Care in order to protect their Burial Right in perpetuity.

In accordance with New York State law, any pets that are removed from forfeited plots are cremated. As an additional measure of dignity, Hartsdale voluntarily chooses to spread the cremated remains of these pets on the cemetery grounds ensuring that no pet ever leaves Hartsdale.

All mail is sent to a plot-holder’s last known address of record. For the protection of the plot-holder, all address changes must be made in writing. Hartsdale Pet Cemetery is not responsible for any consequences resulting from the failure of mail to reach the plot-holder. Thus, it is ultimately the obligation of the plot-holder to ensure that annual general maintenance payments are made. This issue is not applicable for those plot-holders who have purchased Perpetual Care.

The obligation for annual general maintenance does not end when a plot-holder dies. The plot-holder’s estate would be responsible for paying general maintenance. This issue is not applicable for those plot-holders who have purchased Perpetual Care.

Some plot-holders choose to add a provision to their last will and testament with instructions to use funds from their estate to purchase Perpetual General Care for their plot at Hartsdale when he or she is no longer able to do so