Is It Legal To Bury Your Pet At Home In MT?
Before we begin, it's likely that some readers are going through the heartache that comes with losing your pet. It's a gashing, gut-wrenching pain I wouldn't wish on anyone. If you've lost your best tail-wagging friend recently, I wish I could give you a hug right now. I have buried several pets, most recently my ex-girlfriend's pit bull that got hit by a car (it was back in 2016) Evie was an adorable sweetheart of a dog. I held her while the vet administered the euthanasia and we had her cremated. I choose to remember our good girl with this photo:
If the time has come to properly put your furry friend to rest forever, you should know about your options for preserving their memory. The most popular options are either cremation or burial (more on those further down) but there are some things you need to know about post-mortem animal burial in the State of Montana.
The Montana Code Annotated (MCA) 75-10-213 which covers "the disposal of dead animals" states that it is illegal to place any dead animal...
- (1) in any lake, river, creek, pond, reservoir, road, street, alley, lot, or field
- (2) within 1 mile of the residence of any person
Thankfully, there are exceptions to both rules. This law was written mainly to deter people from dumping roadkill or harvested carcasses from successful hunts in environmentally protected areas.
However subsection (3) gives us what we need for burying pets:
- (3) being the owner, permit all or any part of a dead animal to remain in the places specified in subsections (1) and (2)
So if the animal in question is your pet and the property in question is yours, you're safe. In the City of Missoula, there is a Health & Safety code that deals with dead animals as well, though it seems to be aimed at roadkill as well:
8.04.040 Every person having in his possession or control or upon any premises occupied or owned by him any dead animal not proper for food and liable to become noxious and detrimental to health shall cause the same to be at once removed
Making Sense Of The Law
So, in non-legalese, you can bury your pet or pet remains on your property, even if your property contains a part of a river, alley, field, creek, etc. As long as the animal remains are either buried at least 2 feet underground or placed in a "licensed animal composting facility" (crematorium) you are not breaking any laws in the State of Montana.
Options For Your Deceased Pet
As we mentioned above, one of the most common choices is cremation. If you decided to put your pet to sleep at the vet's office, it might be too painful to take the body home to bury yourself. In that case, you could consider cremation, as your pet's body will be transported to an offsite crematorium. There are two options in most cases:
- a communal cremation, where you won't be able to recover the ashes
- a private cremation, you'll be able to get your pet's ashes back
There are several places in Western Montana that will provide those services, with varying fees.
Pruyn Veterinary Hospital in Missoula
406 Pet Crematory in Bozeman
No matter how you choose to remember a pet that gave you unconditional love, know that your pet can be lovingly placed to rest on your property without any hassle in the State of Montana.