Everything You Need to Know About Pet Cemeteries

I grew up in Nevada, and I went to high school in the suburbs of Las Vegas. As most teenagers do around Halloween, we loved to explore any areas that might be haunted or creepy. And as it happens, we were close to one of the most haunted pet cemeteries in the country.

Boulder City isn't much of a town. On your drive to the Hoover Dam, you could almost miss it as you're traveling through the Nevada desert. But as teens, we stopped into the famous Boulder City Pet Cemetery, which was rumored to be haunted by the spirits of animals.

As we enter another Halloween season, my old trips to the pet cemetery sprang to mind. There are many legends and superstitions surrounding pet cemeteries. So we rounded up the spooky and the not-so-spooky facts you need to know about these peaceful burial grounds for beloved pets.

Pet cemeteries have a long history.

Portrait Of Cat Sitting Against Ancient Egyptian Temple
credit: Sandra Vieira / EyeEm/EyeEm/GettyImages

Humans have had a strong connection with their pets, not just for centuries, but for millennia. In 2016, archaeologists found what they believe to be a pet cemetery that is more than 2,000 years old. The animals were carefully and deliberately laid to rest – many were buried in their iron collars or tucked under mats.

We already knew that Egyptians had a special relationship with animals, especially cats, but we'd previously thought that Egyptian pets were usually buried with their owners. These approximately 100 pets were buried on their own with no humans in sight. Marta Osypińska, one of the authors of the study, believes this fact shows early evidence of the "emotional (relationship) between men and pets as we know it today."

And more recently, in the Victorian Age, pet cemeteries began to make even more of a statement.

Antique painting illustration: Woman with dog
credit: ilbusca/DigitalVision Vectors/GettyImages

If you're visiting London and you stop by Hyde Park, you might be drawn to the site of the 19th century pet cemetery that sits quietly in the corner. The cemetery was erected starting in 1881, and it features small headstones with loving inscriptions. One even reads, "The most intelligent, faithful, gentle, sweet tempered & affectionate dog that ever lived: & adored by his devoted and sorrowing friend Sir H. Seton Gordon, Bart."

The Victorians also believed that their animals had spirits that lived on in the afterlife. That belief is one of the seeds that has created the haunted vibe of pet cemeteries today.

Pet cemeteries are often seen as creepy, or even haunted.

And I get it. Nobody wants to think about pets that have passed away.

It probably only increased peoples' superstitions around pet cemeteries when Stephen King wrote his novel Pet Semetary about a haunted pet cemetery. The popular book was eventually turned into a popular horror movie, which undoubtedly helped solidify the image of pet cemeteries as creepy places.

This brings me back to Boulder City. Nobody is really sure when this unauthorized pet cemetery began. Some think it started in the 1930s, but others say it started by a local vet in the 1960s. What isn't disputed is that people continue to bury their pets there. There's a distinct sign saying that pet burials are forbidden—and you know it's common if they have to put up a sign about it.

The randomness of the gravestones and memorials contributes to the eerie vibe of the place, so it makes sense why many people visit the area believing it to be haunted. In fact, it's been labeled the most haunted pet cemetery on Earth by Digital Dying. Some visitors report spotting a white cat wandering the area.

However, spookiness isn't the only thing that pet cemeteries symbolize for pet owners.

Pet cemeteries continue to be a place where people can remember and honor their beloved pets.

None of us really want to think about it, but we can't ignore the fact that it's likely that we'll outlive our pets. Many people opt to have their beloved pet cremated, so they can spread their ashes. However, pet cemeteries are a great option if you'd rather leave a little more of a memorial to your furry family member.

USA, California, San Francisco, gravestones in pet cemetery
credit: Rich Frishman/The Image Bank/GettyImages

And we wouldn't want some of the unusual and spooky history and superstitions around pet cemeteries to make you think that these aren't great options to lay your pet to rest. You can find pet cemeteries all over the place. Your vet will probably be a helpful resource to begin your search. And if you're concerned about it, you can even check out your local pet cemeteries way before you need them.

So whenever your dog or cat's time finally comes, it's good to know that there is an option out there that will allow you to show them all the love and special treatment you showed them throughout their life.