“America’s First Pet Cemetery”
In the late 1800s, New York City made it illegal to inter pets in human cemeteries or public parks within city limits (as of 2017, that is no longer the case). In 1896, a distraught client called Dr. Samuel Johnson, the official state veterinarian of New York. Her dog had just died and she couldn’t bear to dispose of his body.
Dr. Johnson offered to inter her dog at his orchard, located about 25 miles north of the city in Hartsdale, New York. As word spread, Johnson received requests from other bereaved pet owners, and America’s first official pet cemetery was born.
A 1905 feature in the New York Times increased its recognition and prestige, and today, the five-acre cemetery is the final resting place of more than 70,000 pets. Although the wrought-iron entrance gate reads “Hartsdale Canine Cemetery,” any and all animals are accepted at Hartsdale.
In addition to cats and dogs, Hartsdale has also interred rabbits, ferrets, snakes, turtles, guinea pigs, horses, lizards, rabbits, and monkeys.
We happened upon this beautiful place one day and spent a peaceful afternoon wandering through the grounds. This cemetery is absolutely breathtaking. Be sure to bring tissues, as we were all moved to tears. So many graves honoring beloved pets of all kinds.
I can't tell you how happy I am that I saw this on the map and decided to stop. What I thought would be a good place to stretch my legs for 10-15 minutes turned into a 90-minute walk through this pet cemetery... and I didn't see all of it! It doesn't take long to start realizing how much love is represented in this place, and how much joy every one of these animals brought to the lives of the people and families they were a part of. There are a lot of really cute names on the gravestones and some touching epitaphs. Strangely, there were a LOT of dogs named Snoopy, but I didn't see a single Lassie! Definitely take the time to see this place if you are in the area.
Hartsdale Pet Cemetery was a bittersweet and peaceful stop. You could truly feel the love us humans have for our furry family members by reading the sweet inscriptions on the grave markers.
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Hartsdale Pet Cemetery
- Sun: 9:30 am - 4:00 pm
- Mon - Sat: 8:00 am - 4:30 pm
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