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Alderman proposes legalizing pet cremation at Chicago cemeteries

Updated: January 15, 2013 11:41AM



Grieving Chicago dog and cat owners would no longer have to travel to pet cemeteries in the suburbs to have their beloved pets cremated, under a plan proposed by an influential alderman at the behest of a Northwest Side cemetery.

Ald. Marge Laurino (39th) said Thursday she was approached by the owners of Bohemian National Cemetery, 5255 N. Pulaski, after the cemetery was forced to turn away dog owners who wanted to have their dogs cremated.

When Laurino researched the law, she found out that Chicago does not allow cemeteries to cremate pets within the city limits. Now she’s pushing a measure to make it legal citywide.

“Pet owners are asking to have their pets cremated at the same cemetery they will be cremated and buried in. They couldn’t do it in Chicago. They’re taking their pets to the suburbs to be cremated,” said Laurino, chairman of the City Council’s Committee on Pedestrian and Traffic Safety.

“People feel very close to their pets. Some people even put them in their wills. I want to change the zoning code to allow them to have their pets cremated in Chicago.”

Phil Roux, superintendent of the 135-year-old Bohemian National Cemetery, praised Laurino for proposing the change at Wednesday’s City Council meeting.

“A lot of our customers who have relatives buried here or will be buried here themselves would like to have their pets buried with them,” Roux said.

“Right now, they have to go all the way out to the St. Francis pet cemetery to have their pets cremated. But, they would like to have their pets with them. We would like to be able to offer that service to help the community and the families. It could be quite a few in this area.”

Laurino said she’s a dog lover who has lost two dogs of her own. But, when the time came, she found it too “traumatic” to face. She left it to “someone else in the family” to take the dogs outside the city to be cremated. The alderman said she still finds it too painful to discuss.

“I’m not going down that path,” she said. “I had a longstanding business within my community come to me with this issue. That’s why I’m pursuing this.”



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