Sunday, May 06, 2007

Law will let you take Fido to the grave

Florida legislators find it more important an issue to debate bills allowing citizens to be buried with their dogs, rather than making legal domestic partnerships. Pets over people. A backward set of priorities in my opinion.

Law will let you take Fido to the grave; Legislators passed a wide-ranging bill on the funeral industry that will give pet owners a new burial option. Source:
The Miami Herald 05/02/2007


Thanks to a senator's love for his dog, Floridians will soon be able to be buried with the encased ashes of their pets.

A bill in the Legislature that includes wide-ranging provisions on the industry known as ''deathcare'' originally said nothing about dogs and cats. But Sen. Jim King, a Jacksonville Republican, wanted to make sure that he can be buried with the ashes of his favorite black Lab, Valentine, who died about a decade ago.

The Senate voted for the measure 38-1 on Tuesday, sending the bill to the governor.
''Valentine was a very special dog,'' King said, adding that the pet helped him get through the deaths of his parents and was with him in his first campaign for office. ``She was the one living thing that was predictable in my life.''

Besides clearing the way for pet burials, the bill prohibits hospices from owning funeral homes and helps protect funeral directors from lawsuits brought by estranged family members who dispute a cremation. But nothing grabbed more attention than King's ''Felix and Fido'' amendment, which he said has drawn all kinds of comments from constituents.

''I've got meaningful legislation here that probably never will see the light of day,'' King said, adding that the most praise he's received is for this minor pet amendment.
Sen. Victor Crist, the Tampa Republican and bill sponsor, said he had no problem accommodating King's request.

''The love for your pet is almost as great as the love for the other members of your family,'' Crist said. ``The focus should be on what is important to the deceased.''
Under current law, a licensed cemetery can house only human remains. Burial grounds that have wanted to allow pets usually set aside a plot outside the official cemetery. However, Florida's many unlicensed cemeteries have been allowed to bury pets.
Crist said there's no health issue because the bill allows only remains that have been cremated and encased to lie next to their masters.

The other provisions in the bill are the result of changing societal attitudes on death. Funeral homes have been plagued in recent years by increasingly complex family situations, and cremation is becoming more popular, now accounting for about half of the dispositions in Florida.
The combination has culminated in more lawsuits against funeral homes when they cremate remains based on the wishes of the deceased or family. The bill specifies that funeral homes aren't liable when an estranged family member disputes the decision to cremate.
The hospice provision came out of a scare when a Fort Myers hospice applied for a license to operate a funeral home in December, causing a stir over what many said was a conflict of interest.

The bill passed with just one ''no'' vote. That came from Sen. Steve Oelrich, a Cross Creek Republican, who said he thought the bill placed too many regulations on the industry. To the pet provision, he had no objection.

Actually, he may use it to be buried with his dog, he said: ``Bobby Ray Boykin and I can snuggle up.''

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