How do I start a pet cemetery business?

Consider this sliver of text part and parcel of the last mile in pet-themed entrepreneurship. Right now we are calling on America’s vast and varied pet cemeteries. According to the International Association of Pet Cemeteries & Crematories (IAOPCC), there are more than 600 pet cemeteries in the United States. Pet burial grounds are quite often associated with veterinary hospitals, kennels, grooming and training outfits, as well as animal rescue and shelter operations.

There are, however, many independently owned and operated pet cemeteries. There are even a few that exist in places you wouldn’t expect to unearth them. St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in New Providence, New Jersey @ (908-464-4875) maintains a section of its grounds as a pet cemetery. It invites pet owners of all religious affiliations, or none at all, to bury their pets in its peaceful and picturesque locale. Ah, you think that church property and the internment of pet remains rings a little peculiar to the ear. Well, St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals and the environment, wouldn’t think so.


Perhaps you are interested in becoming a pet cemetery proprietor? It certainly is an entrepreneurial undertaking that is off the beaten path. But since death is one of only two guarantees in life the other being taxes. There’s really nothing extraordinary or uncanny about owning and operating a pet cemetery.

As youngsters growing up in the late 1960s and early 1970s, the book’s authors couldn’t believe that pet cemeteries actually existed. In those days of yore before pet parenting assumed center stage. They were truly considered places that only a minuscule number of pet-owning eccentrics would contemplate patronizing. One pet cemetery, in particular, fascinated us to no end. It was located on the well-traveled Central Avenue in Hartsdale, New York, about fifteen miles north of our Bronx home. Whenever we passed by it during the dog days of summer, its manicured lawn and neat and colorful rows of begonias and marigolds caught our attention. We noted that its spiffy appearance trumped the not-too-far Gate of Heaven human cemetery, where we occasionally visited deceased relations.


Subsequently, we learned that this eye-catching burial ground, the Hartsdale Canine Cemetery, established in 1896, lay claim to being the oldest in the entire country. (Archaeologist Dr. Stewart Schrever has since exhumed a burial site in Green County, Illinois, which he believes interred pets. He dates his find at 6500 BC. Regardless, the Hartsdale Canine Cemetery maintains the distinction of being the oldest operating pet cemetery in the United States.)

The inscription inside the cemetery’s gate, which, despite its name, welcomes dearly departed felines, reads. “In 1896, a prominent New York veterinarian, Dr. Samuel Johnson, offered his apple orchard in rural Hartsdale, New York, to serve as a burial plot for a bereaved friend’s dog. That single compassionate act served as the cornerstone for what was to become America’s first and most prestigious pet cemetery.”

The present reality is that just like most pet-specialty businesses in the new millennium pet cemeteries are getting both more notice and more business. It stands to reason that in this era of conscientious pet parenting. More owners parents of cats and dogs are seeking out proper burials and lasting memorials for their deceased animal companions. Burials and memorials, that is, with all the solemnity, dignity, and longevity of their human equivalents.

How Much Does It Cost to Start This Kind of Pet Cemetery business?

Foremost, if you want to own and operate a pet cemetery, you need a chunk of property. Sorry, but there’s no way around this. The land, by law, must also be suitable for hosting a cemetery within its confines for as far as the eye can see. If you haven’t been shopping around for a piece of real estate lately. You might be surprised that the land doesn’t come cheap nowadays. Of course, so much of the cost is rooted in the physical location of the piece of the earth under consideration. Perhaps you already own appropriate space for a pet cemetery—that would be nice!

Keep in mind, too, that you cannot lease or rent a property for a legitimate pet cemetery. The land must be owned outright by a proprietor, proprietors, or an established cemetery corporation. Before interring their deceased pets, your clientele is going to want to know all about the enduring prospects of your cemetery as a business entity. In other words, they wouldn’t want to see the burial grounds cast asunder when the land is sold to the highest bidder for development purposes.


Many pet cemetery businesses also perform cremation services as well, which are popular. So, if you want to do this business right and thoroughly, you will need crematory equipment, which is costly. You will have to purchase all of the necessary insurances and acquire the requisite operating permits. But this is true for all substantial business endeavors. If you don’t already own the necessary land, anticipate an initial investment of at least $100,000 to get the cemetery ball rolling in the right direction.

What Qualifications Do You Need for This Kind of Work?

Aside from the obvious and ample investment needs, owning and operating a pet cemetery is a decidedly layered undertaking. Foremost, you need a solid entrepreneurial head on your shoulders and a long-term commitment to running a business with both present and future obligations to your customers. In this type of venture, it sure helps to have an empathetic and compassionate spirit, too. You really have to appreciate that your customers today, tomorrow, and the tomorrow after that will be bereaved pet owners who require a bit of succor along with your myriad burial services.

How Do You Find Customers fou your Pet Cemetery business?

Considering the small aggregate numbers of pet cemeteries in existence. It wouldn’t be too difficult to attract business via the traditional routes of advertising.

As a pet cemetery proprietor, it would also be wise to align your business establishment with nearby veterinary hospitals and as many other pet-themed enterprises as possible. You want word of mouth in pet-parenting circles to start spreading the news that a reputable pet cemetery exists as a real option for them.

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