‘A sign of the times’ for Standing Rock

Rachel Hagenbaugh

This spring, Standing Rock Cemetery in Kent plans to offer plots for owners to be buried with their beloved pets.

Jean Chrest, clerk-treasurer at the cemetery, said there will be two options for people who wished to be buried with their pets. Each plot has room for three cremations, or one casket and two cremations. Pets buried in the cemetery must be cremated, but owners will have the option to be either cremated or placed in a casket, and placed in the plot with their pet.

“I want to make it clear that we are not opening a pet cemetery,” Chrest said. “We are putting in a section where people can be buried with remains of pets.”

According to the Ohio Revised Code section 961.01 a pet cemetery means: “land, together with any structures, facilities, or building appurtenant thereto, provided to members of the general public for use or reservation for use for the individual interment, above or below ground, of pet remains.”

Chrest said she and the Standing Rock Cemetery Board of Trustees considered adding a section for pets only, but decided against it. The original plan was to split the section 15 addition into two sections. One side was to be used to bury only pets, the other side for humans to be buried with their pets in the same plot.

After consideration, they decided to split up the section 15 addition by allowing those who wanted to be cremated in one section, and those who wanted a full burial in the other section.

The sections where owners will share a plot with their pets is in the back, left-hand corner of the cemetery, next to the public grounds where families who can’t afford a plot can bury loved ones, with assistance from the city.

Carol Alumeyri, 66, of Kent, does not agree with the cemeteries plans to allow pets to be buried anywhere in the cemetery. She has four generations of family members buried at Standing Rock, and visits her parents’ graves weekly.

“It’s a matter of respect,” Alumeyri said. “It’s sacred ground. Animals deserve their respect and dignity, but not where my family is buried.”

Chrest said the main reason they decided to offer this option was because of public demand. She was receiving calls about people wanting to be buried with their pets who were taking their business elsewhere because Standing Rock Cemetery didn’t have that option.

“We’re a big place” Chrest said. “We should be able to accommodate everyone’s needs and wants.”

Some people bring their pet’s ashes and spread them on a plot they already have reserved. Chrest said that behavior is illegal, but it happens occasionally.

“This gives them a legitimate, legal place to bury their pets,” Chrest said.

Alumeyri said she is also concerned about the amount of space left for families to bury their human loved ones. She wants to ensure that there will be room for many generations to be buried at the cemetery.

Chrest said that’s one of the reasons why her and the board decided against allowing a “pet only” section. With the current set-up, people will still be buried in both sections. People just have the option of allowing their pets to be buried with them. Regardless, Chrest said the cemetery has about 150 years to go before residents will have to start worrying about it filling up.

Chrest said she’s had two complaints, including Alumeryi’s. Most people were receptive to the idea of allowing a section for pet and human burials.

The board of trustees held a meeting Jan. 19 to address some of the concerns citizens had. She remained dissatisfied and is planning on taking legal action.

Alumeyri said she is going to file a grievance with the Ohio Cemetery Dispute Resolution Commision, and send a copy to Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine.

Contact Rachel Hagenbaugh at [email protected].