Pet Lovers’ Fears That World’s First Pet Cemeteries Will Be Sold to Developer

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.

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4 Responses to “Pet Lovers’ Fears That World’s First Pet Cemeteries Will Be Sold to Developer”

  1. Beth Mahla Says:

    We have pets burried in this cemetary! We are outraged about the condition and are trying to locate others with beloved pets in this cemetary and get the place cleaned up. Please email me if you have loved ones at Rosa Bonheur Memorial Park and are interested in helping. []

  2. Penny Blankenship Says:

    We have started a grassroots volunteer effort to convince the county and state to take control of the situation in regards to the Rosa Bonheur cemetery. There is an online petition that will go to the Maryland Attorney General, and also a call for volunteers to help with a spring clean up of the cemetery.

    We are in the process of locating the headstones with a metal detector and marking them for future clean up. For more information, go to: []
    to a link to the petition and information on how you can help.

  3. Penny Blankenship Says:

    A grass roots effort has been started to clean up and preserve the Rosa Bonheur Pet Cemetery.

    An online petition is available, a Web site set up to document efforts, news, information, pictures, and get volunteers. We are currently located headstones through the use of a metal detector, marking headstones with flags, clearing the headstones for pictures, GPS location data, and cataloging them for justification to name this cemetery as an historical site.

    Please pass the word, and visit: [] for link to the petition, a mail group, and to volunteer in the clean up efforts.

    Thank you for your help.

  4. Administrator Says:

    I am highly relived.
    It’s a real great job, go ahead.



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