The Maizières animal cemetery (1,000 inhabitants) is the only one in Meurthe-et-Moselle. Created at the end of the 90s by an individual, it was bought by the municipality in 2010, when it had 80 concessions. Since then, around fifteen news have been awarded, including five in 2020. “Before the health crisis, it was one or two a year and that year, many people contacted us, even if it did not always led to a concession, remarks Caroline Paque, town clerk in Maizières. Many communities also called us to inquire. »
Cost for families
Of the 22 million dogs and cats in French families, approximately one million die each year. About thirty existing animal cemeteries, including a handful for the moment managed by the municipalities. Some have just started, such as Valenton (Val-de-Marne), Châteauroux (Indre) or Roanne (Loire).
“Families who become aware that animal mourning exists, points out Nicolas Goossens, director of the Generys funeral group, in charge of the private animal cemetery of Villepinte [37 800 hab., Seine-Saint-Denis]. Cremation is more usual but some families want a place of meditation. The management of an animal cemetery by a community in the form of a public service makes it possible to ensure sustainability while a private person could speculate on the financial return of the operation. From an administrative point of view, the animal does not have a civil status card, so it is a little simpler. »
In Maizières, to benefit from an animal concession, it is necessary to count 100 euros for five years, 200 euros for fifteen years and 300 euros for thirty years. The scattering of ashes in the garden of remembrance amounts to 30 euros. A reasonable price, to which must be added the service of the funeral directors, whose intervention is compulsory for the digging and the burial. “They make sure that we enter an animal, and not a baby for example, specifies Caroline Paque. This additional cost often deters people. The funeral directors in our sector do this, but not all of them are prepared for it. »
The town of Asnières-sur-Seine (87,200 inhabitants, Hauts-de-Seine) is home to the oldest animal cemetery in France. It was created in 1899 by Marguerite Durand, a feminist journalist, and her husband Georges Harmois, a lawyer defending the poorest, and taken over by the city in 1997. “The cemetery was in decline, the building was threatened with disappearance, indicates Josiane Fischer , assistant delegate for culture and tourism in Asnières-sur-Seine, departmental councilor for Hauts-de-Seine and veterinarian. It was born from the beginning of the awareness of the status of the animal, a living being vis-à-vis the human with responsibilities. »
The site has 2,700 concessions, all occupied, of which 900 are regularly renewed. Annual prices vary between 148 euros for small animals (0.50 square meter space), to 297 euros for large ones (one square meter). The rates are decreasing up to ten years, the maximum duration. Isabelle Havez, head of heritage administrative affairs in Asnières-sur-Seine, regularly receives calls from municipalities: “We are a bit like the animal Père Lachaise. I advise municipalities to carry out a survey of the population to assess demand. »
In Asnières-sur-Seine, the coffin and the intervention of the funeral directors are compulsory, and it is possible to gather several animals in the same vault. The ashes are scattered in the garden of remembrance, under a weeping willow. However, as provided by law, animals weighing more than 40 kilos are prohibited, as well as religious symbols.
Place of walk
“There is often less modesty in the epitaphs of animals, we read entire texts and we find more objects in burials, remarks Josiane Fischer. At Christmas and the 1uhNovember, the flowering is very important. “Sometimes it hurts the heart,” adds Isabelle Havez. Lit: “To my daughter” or “To my child”. They are very lonely people. »
If tourist dealers come every day to pay homage to their deceased cat or dog, this cemetery also has a function and walk. Onlookers paid an entry fee of 3.50 euros. The animal cemetery is not a source of income for town halls, it meets a societal need.
In Asnières or Maizières, practically no animal of the commune rests in this cemetery, they come from all over France, and even from abroad. “It is a lot of constraints for few resources that Caroline Paque admits, and it is a service that we render to other communities, but it is a curiosity and a showcase for the municipality. »
An animal welfare coordinator who listens to the inhabitants
Coralie Monier, coordinator of animal welfare and nature in the city in Roanne (Loire, 33,800 inhab.)
In Roanne, the municipal children’s council launched the idea of an animal cemetery. Set up by the environment and funeral services, he was arrested at the end of March 2022. In order to carry out actions on the animal in town, a position was even created in September 2021.
“My role is to respond to requests from residents concerning animals in the city, cats, pigeons, explains Coraline Monier, the new coordinator of animal welfare and nature in the city. All animals found in the city’s public space are kept and buried in the cemetery. It’s more respectful than sending them to be rendered. I also take care of the falcon nest box located at the top of a church, dog parks and plants. »
In Roanne, an animal concession (grave or place in a colombarium for the urn) costs 300 euros for ten years (to be added to the costs of burial or cremation, registration and plate). The new equipment adjoins the human cemetery and cost the municipality 130,000 euros. Fitted out by the technical services, it is intended to be ecological and planted with trees: the coffin is not compulsory, there are no tombstones or vaults, but wooden surrounds with mulch and slate.
You can come from all over France to bury your animal there. New pets (exotic animals, myriapods) will be welcomed at the discretion of the mayor, Yves Nicolin, who has a cat in the town hall.
Contact : Coraline Monier, [email protected]