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Established in 1896, the Hartsdale Pet Cemetery is the oldest operating commercial burial ground for pets in the world. It was founded by Dr. Samuel Johnson, a veterinarian and officer of the ASPCA who offered a spot in the apple orchard at his weekend retreat as a burial place for a pet of a distraught friend. Two years later, Dr. Johnson announced that a portion of his property would be opened as a pet cemetery, "the first of its kind in this country." Over 80,000 burials have been made in the cemetery, and its 14,000 interment lots contain 7,000 monuments.


  • Hartsdale Pet Cemetery in the early 20th century.
  • The plot of dancer and actress Irene Castle at the Hartsdale Pet Cemetery.
  • Hartsdale Pet Cemetery in the early 20th century.

The Hartsdale Pet Cemetery was founded in 1896 by Dr. Samuel Johnson, a veterinarian and officer of the ASPCA. Dr. Johnson, who had purchased a weekend retreat in Hartsdale, allowed a distraught friend to bury her pet dog in an apple orchard on his property. Through his practice, Dr. Johnson encountered a number of individuals and families who also wished for a proper burial place for their pets, so he decided to transform a portion of his Hartsdale property into a cemetery for pets. Socialite and philanthropist Emily Berthet was selected to lay out the burial sections, while John Logan, who had been a groundskeeper at Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx, was chosen to oversee interments and improve the grounds. The burial ground was laid out in a style similar to contemporary rural cemeteries, with a focus on the creation of an attractive landscape including bushes, flowers, hedges and trees.

Although the wrought iron sign on Central Park Avenue refers to the burial ground as "Hartsdale Canine Cemetery," it has been used as a place of interment for numerous kinds of pets. The cemetery's website notes that in addition to dogs and cats, "horses, birds, primates, myriad small pets, and even a lion who lived at the Plaza Hotel" have been buried here. Over 80,000 pets have been interred at Hartsdale Pet Cemetery in the burial ground's 14,000 lots, which contain 7,000 monuments.

At the center of the cemetery stands its largest monument, the War Dog Memorial. It features a German Shepherd wearing a Red Cross blanket, and was dedicate to honor the Red Cross war dogs of World War I. A few smaller monuments have been placed in the ground around the War Dog Memorial, including Sirius, a Port Authority Police Department dog who was killed in the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

Hartsdale Pet Cemetery was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2012. It is the only animal cemetery on the National Register.

"History." Hartsdale Pet Cemetery. Accessed April 28th 2020. https://petcem.com/history/.

Raftery, Patrick. The Cemeteries of Westchester County. Volume II. Elmsford, N.Y.. Westchester County Historical Society, 2011.

Thurston, Mary. "National Register of Historic Places Nomination Form: Hartsdale Pet Cemetery." November 25, 2012.

Image Sources(Click to expand)

Westchester County Historical Society.

Westchester County Historical Society.

Westchester County Historical Society.