Can you bury your dog in your backyard in Sonoma County? If your beloved family dog has passed away, you may want to bury him or her in the backyard, just like they do in the movies. It makes sense to want to keep your pet close by, especially if you want to have a headstone or other landscape feature to memorialize them by. Some pet owners even want to hold a small service. However, it is not legal to bury your dog in your backyard in Sonoma County. We’ll go over your legal options and why this law exists.

What Can You Do If Your Dog Passes?

Those who want to have their dog memorialized or want to have a place to go to visit their pet aren’t out of options. According to Sonoma County’s animal control department, you have three legal options when your dog dies:

  • Have the authorities pick up your dog at your house.
  • Have the dog cremated at an animal shelter with the facilities to do so.
  • Have the dog buried in a pet cemetery.

If you were thinking of burying your dog in your backyard with a headstone, the pet cemetery may be most appealing to you. There are several pet cemeteries in Sonoma that offer a beautiful and peaceful setting for your dog’s final resting place. One of our personal favorites is the Bubbling Well Pet Memorial Park. You can choose a headstone or urn for your dog from many different options and personalize both with images and text.

However, if you were concerned about cost, the Humane Society of Sonoma County offers two kinds of cremations: personal and communal. With communal cremation, your dog is respectfully cremated with other passed pets and their ashes are not returned.

If you instead choose private cremation, the Humane Society will cremate your dog privately and collect their ashes in a dark walnut urn. You may personalize the engraving on the urn. Most people choose to add their pet’s name, but you may also add their birth and death years or a small saying that is important to you.

Why Can’t You Bury Your Dog in Your Backyard?

It’s true that no one will check if you’ve buried your dog in your backyard. If you really want to do it, chances are good that no one will stop you, but you may be creating a problem for yourself and other pet owners.

The first concern is that if your pet was put to sleep, the chemical lingers in their body for a year after you bury them. Any animal that digs up the body may die, including raccoons and other neighborhood pets. Similarly, if your dog died from a transmittable disease or infection, burying them may taint the soil and expose other neighborhood animals to the infection.

In the end, it is best to go the legal route to protect your future pets and the other pets and wildlife living near you.