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With the summer heat taking its toll on just about everything, it's also hard on our pets. Recently one of our pets passed and I was left with the decision of what to do. The veterinarian was kind enough to explain all the different options I had available here in west Texas.

One option that surprised me was when she asked me if I would like to take the pet home and bury it in our backyard. For years I have been under the misunderstanding that you cannot bury pets in your backyard.

However, that is not the fact. While I can bury my pet in my backyard inside the City of Abilene. There are a few exceptions to that rule. One and the most important part is I have to be the actual owner of the property where I am burying the pet.

The other parts are:

  1. You must call 811 to make sure where you are digging is safe
  2. You must not bury on the parts of land that are "right of way" or "easement"
  3. You must bury the pet at least 3 feet deep, so it doesn't emit any odors
  4. Do not wrap the animal in plastic as it doesn't allow natural decomposition
  5. You cannot bury an animal that died from rabies or other infectious diseases

Mari Cockerell, City of Abilene's Communications Director says, "As far as Code Enforcement is concerned you may, with the caveat that you own the property, it's not buried in the right of way or easement, you call 811 before you dig, that the carcass is not exposed or emit an odor if the animal is suspected of having a transmittable disease (rabies) they must be surrendered to Animal Control. The depth, recommendation is 3-4 feet. This is only the City of Abilene ordinance and not Taylor County, Texas, or federal.

City Attorney Stanley Smith says "There is no specific prohibition to burying an animal on private property within the Abilene city limits. The burial cannot create a nuisance, which would typically be putrefying odors. State law requires 3-4 foot depth. Source: City of Abilene

As far as crematoriums are concerned, we have a couple here in Abilene including the Abilene Animal Shelter, and Paw to Paw is another. Now, as far as pet cemeteries are concerned we have the Taylor Jones Humane Society's Rainbow Bridge Pet Cemetery at 5449 Pet Haven Road. The others nearest to the Big Country are in Slaton and San Angelo.

With the loss of one of my fur babies recently, I learned that there are ways to memorialize our pets. One is getting ink paw prints, plaster paw casts, and photo collar frames to name a few, as you'll see below.

LOOK: These are a couple of ideas to memorialize your pets

LOOK: The Abilene Zoo From A to Z

Here's a close-up look at the animals that call the Abilene Zoo home.

Gallery Credit: Rudy Fernandez

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