Humane society opens cemetery for pets

January 29, 2004|EMILY TOADVINE

Natasha Fluffies Hamm has a final resting spot, and it's not in the corner of the back yard.

The pet corgi of Mike and JoAnn Hamm is the first animal to be buried in a cemetery behind the Danville-Boyle County Humane Society on the Danville bypass.

"We thought it would be a nice way to honor her memory," says Mike Hamm, who is president of the local humane society.

Their dog had been a part of the Hamm family for 11 years until it died last January.

"You become very attached to them. They almost become like your children. We're just dog lovers and always have been," says Hamm, who has another corgi, Nigel.


In addition to Fluffies, the dog's grave marker also says "Colonel Biscuit." Hamm's daughter nicknamed the dog while pet sitting for her parents.

"She was a corgi, that meant she was the kind of dog who liked to take command," Hamm says.

The Hamms had their dog cremated, and waited for burial because they knew the cemetery was on its way.

"It's a public service for people who want to memorialize their pets," Hamm says.

J.T. Goggans, who has been involved with the humane society for 25 years, helped create the cemetery after the board approved it.

"We had discussed this for several years, but we didn't know if it would be successful in this area," Goggans says.

Goggans, who is retired from his construction business, was able to use the company's equipment to lay out the area, which is almost an acre, with creek gravel-lined paths. There are five sections.

Dan Turcea, director at the facility, thinks pet owners will make use of the area.

"Several times a year people ask about this," he says.

Turcea says the cemetery will be unlike the other spots pet lovers might have selected.

"I hope it will be a place without other traffic back there, not like in the corner of someone's back yard."

Hamm says the cemetery also is a way of building support for the humane society and its programs. "We hope people take advantage of it."

A shelter area eventually will be added to the cemetery.

"We certainly intend for this to be a quiet, reflective visiting place," Turcea says.

Cemetery is divided into areas for small, medium and large dogs

Danville's cemetery is divided into areas for small, medium and large dogs. The cemetery accepts animals 150 pounds or smaller or cremated dogs of any size. The cost varies with the size of dog: $150 for cremated or smaller pets less than 5 pounds; $175 for medium pets of 6 to 49 pounds; $200 for large pets of 50 to 99 pounds; and $250 for extra-large pets of 100 to 150 pounds.

The pet owner is responsible for having the body cremated or taking it to a veterinarian for storage until the humane society staff can prepare a grave and pick the pet up from the vet. The burial process may take up to a month, depending on weather and other factors.

A holly bronze grave marker is included with up to 20 characters. More characters may be added for $1 each. Hamm says one of the holdups in opening the cemetery was finding the markers.

"It took us awhile to find something that would be appropriate, that would be inexpensive enough to be usable but would stand the weather."

Without a beloved member of the family gone, the Hamms decided to adopt from the society.

Their bouncing puppy weighs less than 10 pounds and aptly was named Peanut. Hamm says they wondered how their other dog would feel, but Peanut has fit in wonderfully.

"It's been very rewarding for us to have adopted a pound puppy and to watch the old dog and the new puppy adjust to each other. I think Nigel was quite lonely after Fluffies died."

The charges associated with the cemetery cover costs, but do not raise extra funds, Turcea says. He and Hamm both note that the animal shelter will be embarking on a major fund-raising drive as it plans to expand.

Plans call for adding two extensions. One is for cats, which now are kept in the treatment room. The treatment room will be upgraded. A combination board room and socialization room will be added for people who are potential adopters to get to know their dog or cat. "It's going to be very expensive, but it will make for a better shelter," Hamm says.

Hamm ranks the Boyle County facility as one of the top in the state and says that many people benefit from it.

"We really serve not just Boyle County, but I think people from surrounding counties bring their pets in as well. But we need more space, and we need some upgraded facilities."

Central Kentucky News Articles