Named after a 19th-century animal painter, Rosa Bonheur Memorial Park was founded in 1935 in Elkridge as one of the world’s first pet cemeteries. Its decision in 1979 to allow owners to be buried next to their pets made national headlines.
The 22,000 animals buried there include obscure goldfish and parakeets as well as more famous animals like Wiggles (a 29-year-old champion horse) and Corp. Rex Ahlbin (a World War II combat dog who died during fighting at Guadalcanal).
At least 20 Homo sapiens are also buried there, according to former manager Marilyn L. Phillips. One of those, U.S. Army Pfc. Melvin D. Ward, killed himself by jumping out of an airplane without a parachute because he was despondent over the death of his 7-year-old dog, Moo. They are buried next to each other.
But what was once notable as a pioneering pet cemetery — the first in the nation to allow people and their pets to be buried side by side — has devolved over the past decade into a dilapidated eyesore, plagued by allegations of theft and persistent speculation that the burial ground will soon be turned into a strip mall. The current owner won’t comment on any plans.