Q: This is an unpleasant subject, but it's one that I have to bring up as this is something that we will be dealing with very soon. Is it legal in Collier County to bury your deceased pet on your property?
We live in a very rural area, and we want to put our animal to rest on our land (cremation is out of the question, in our minds). We know enough not to bury the animal near groundwater supply. I cannot find any information to tell me and I honestly do not want to talk to (or argue with!) code enforcement during such a painful time for my family.
Also, in regard to deceased animals, although not regarding our personal pets, there seems to be a sadly large number of roadkill where we live. What is the appropriate department to call and report a roadkill? I've seen large animals lying on the road for days before they get removed, and it's very distressing. Does D.A.S. (Domestic Animal Services) handle these situations? Thank you
— Vera Armstrong, Golden Gate Estates
A: First of all, Vera, I'm sorry for your impending loss. Losing a beloved pet can be difficult, especially if it has been a longtime part of the family.
Not many regulations exist regarding pet burials. County code does not address the issue, said Jeff Latourneau, a Collier County code enforcement supervisor, but the subject is part of Florida Statute 823.041.
The state law regarding the disposal of dead animals does not provide much information either, though. The statute basically states that owners of domestic animals "shall dispose of the carcasses of such animals by burning or burying at least 2 feet below the surface of the ground; provided, however, nothing in this section shall prohibit the disposal of such animal carcasses to rendering companies licensed to do business in this state."
The state defines a domestic animal as any horse, cow, goat, sheep, swine, dog, cat, poultry, "or other domesticated beast or bird."
It seems unnecessary, but the statue also states "it is unlawful to dispose of the carcass of any domestic animal by dumping such carcass on any public road or right of way, or in any place where such carcass can be devoured by beast or bird." Anyone violating these provisions is guilty of a second-degree misdemeanor, according to the statute.
"As far as burying pets in your yard, there are no actual written regulations to prevent people from burying pets in their yard," said Brian Laurent, owner/operator of Pets for Peace in East Naples. "I don't have knowledge of any kind of law that prevents it from happening,"
Of course, before burying a deceased pet in your backyard, make sure it is not prohibited by your homeowners association, said Laurent, a funeral director by trade.
A lot of other options exist for assistance during the loss of a pet. Here are some local services:
■ Pet loss counseling and support: Counselors at Avow Hospice in Naples are available to talk one-on-one with pet owners.
“We provide grief support for people dealing with the loss of a pet,” said spokeswoman Deborah Jonsson.
Avow also has a support group that meets on the third Monday of every month from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. at 1095 Whippoorwill Lane.
In addition, a courtyard there offers engraved bricks to memorialize pets and is the venue twice a year for Rainbow Day, a memorial service for area pets. The service was just held Saturday, and the next one will be in the spring, Jonsson said.
Information: 239-261-4404; www.avowhospice.org
■ Pet funeral services and private cremation: Pets at Peace, 4424 U.S. 41 E., East Naples, offers funerals and any other death services for pets that customarily are provided for humans.
“It all depends what the family is accustomed to or comfortable with,” Laurent said. “I can’t tell you how many times people have said, 'I really wish I knew I could have done that'.”
A private chapel, individual cremation service, caskets, urns and even personalized euthanasia and pre-planned funerals are available for pets at this family-owned business. Pets at Peace also is a resource for grave markers, urns and memorial keepsakes for pets.
“We are a door-to-door-concierge. We’ll come directly to your house and explain everything,” said Laurent, a licensed funeral director who solely does pet services now because of the local demand.
Information: 239-417-5400; www.fullerpetsatpeace.com
■ Pet cemetery: Pet Haven Cemetery off Interstate 75 in Punta Gorda is the nearest cemetery for pets.
“We have families that come from Naples and Fort Myers for our pet cemetery,” said Karen Monnier, general manager for Pet Haven, which is part of Royal Palm Memorial Gardens.
The pet cemetery features ground burial, cremation niches, and a garden for scattering cremains. Royal Palm Memorial Gardens also has a Garden of Companionship, where families can be buried near their pets or together with their pets’ cremated remains.
“Folks have been burying their pets in their backyard forever,” Monnier said. “Our pet cemetery is popular because people move and don’t want to leave their pets behind.”
Information: 941-637-0332; www.royalpalmmemorial.com/pet-haven-cemetery
What is the appropriate department to call about roadkill in Collier County?
Domestic Animal Services only picks up the remains of domestic animals, mostly dogs and cats, said Daniel Christenbury, a spokesman for Collier County DAS.
Most animals hit by motor vehicles are nondomesticated or wild animals, which are picked up by the Collier County Road and Bridge Maintenance Department, said Connie Deane, a county spokeswoman. The department's routine maintenance duties include cleaning and debris removal from the pavement, shoulders, and roadside ditches and culverts.
The reason for the separation of duties for domestic and wild animals is because DAS staff checks for identification information from collars, license tags or implanted microchips and makes an attempt to notify pet owners.
"Both departments help each other out, if needed," Deane said. "If someone is not sure of the type of animal remains but contacts Road Maintenance, crew members will provide the remains of domesticated animals to DAS so that, if there are chips in the animals, the DAS staff may be able to locate the animal's owner."
The road department removes about 200 animals each year from county roadways, and most commonly finds carcasses for armadillos, opossums, raccoons, squirrels, ducks, skunks, vultures, hawks and even deer, hogs, horses and alligators, Deane said.
She provided these contact numbers for citizens to call for the removal of animal remains on Collier County roadways:
■ Domesticated animals: Call DAS, 239-252-PETS (7387), 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday. During other times, call the nonemergency line for the Sheriff's Office, 239-252-9300.
■ Nondomesticated animals: Call the county's road maintenance department, 239-252-8924. The line is staffed only 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays, but an answering service handles after-hour calls and locates on-call staff, Deane said.
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