5

Halacha requires certain burial practices for people, because people are special. Are there any requirements or, especially, prohibitions regarding pets who have died? Is it acceptable to cremate them, or must they be buried? If buried, are there requirements about how?

(The pets, of course, are not Jewish, but we have obligations to our animals while they live so I am wondering if there are any when they no longer do.)

11

The Torah itself says (Ex. 22:30) that the meat of an animal that is tereifah (fatally injured) should be "thrown to the dogs." Now, granted, the animal wasn't necessarily a pet when it was alive (whether anyone back then kept pets is pretty uncertain anyway), but you had the obligation to feed it before yourself (Berachos 40a based on Deut. 11:15), and you couldn't work it on Shabbos (Ex. 20:10), yet we see that once the animal is dead you can dispose of it any way you want.


A couple of other sources that may bear on this:

  • Jeremiah (22:19) says of King Yehoyakim, "He will be buried like a donkey, dragged and cast outside the gates of Jerusalem." Radak paraphrases: just as a donkey's "burial" consists of dragging the carcass out and throwing it in the trash, so will be the fate of Yehoyakim's body. So evidently there is no need to treat a dead donkey with any kind of respect (and that's not an animal that otherwise might have been used for food).

  • The Mishnah (Temurah 7:4,6) lists various cases where a dead animal has to be either buried or burned, because it is prohibited for use (whether because of its sanctity, such as a disqualified offering; or as a punishment to its owner, like an ox that gored someone to death). The implication is that these cases have special rules because of these reasons, but that an ordinary animal carcass can be disposed of however you like.

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I would very strongly assume that there are no prohibitions or guidelines, other than complying with local concerns for infection and the like.

  • 10
    Without a source this answer is not very useful. – HodofHod Nov 15 '11 at 21:01

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