A few weeks ago I wrote about Oak Rest Pet Gardens, a modern pet cemetery in the Northeast suburbs of Atlanta. But on the way there, I was thinking of another pet cemetery I’d heard about. I stumbled upon a listing on Find a Grave for Atlanta Pet Cemetery. The few pictures I saw showed a rather rough around the edges cemetery with an old sign that referred to it as Pet Heaven Memorial Park.
It wasn’t until this week, having recruited my photographer friend Jennifer Graham to accompany me, that I got there. I’ve been in that part of Northwest Atlanta a few times, but not that deep inside the I-285 Perimeter.
Pet Heaven Memorial Park is located in a quirky area called Monroe Heights near Bolton Road and Donald Lee Hollowell Parkway (formerly Bankhead Highway). Amid industrial plants and older residences, it’s got long stretches of forest along the road. Not what you would expect so close to the city. I was thankful my directions advised drivers to turn onto a small driveway just past the Procter Creek bridge. I would have never seen it otherwise.
The first thing I noticed was the new sign.
I know nothing about Pet Heaven Memorial Park. There is no information about them on the Internet, although I did see it listed in the online Yellow Pages with a phone number. I don’t know who owns or operates it. But clearly people know about it because burials continue to take place here.
Pet Heaven has two distinct sections. The old section, off to the left as you enter, is a disorganized, shabby area. I found graves for pets dating back to the 40s there. The newer section, to the right, is neatly mowed and the dates are from the 80s to the present.
One of the markers was for a toy poodle named Fluffy. I think perhaps “Hardee’s Mignon” was her official AKC (American Kennel Club) name but I don’t know for sure.
A double grave for Peaches and Mittens Wynne (I think they must have been cats) had some inscriptions on the flat potions.
Further on, we began seeing graves from the 60s and earlier.
I got a little excited when we starting seeing dates from the 40s. One of them was sunk down in the ground, so I had to brush off dirt to see the dates at the bottom.
Then I saw a group of graves that had some numbers on them. I’m wondering if they were AKC registration numbers.
It’s hard to fathom that a dog that lived through the Great Depression is buried here.
As we went deeper into the cemetery, it was apparent that the older section was a mess. Some of the markers looked like they had been uprooted and tossed into a pile at some point. I don’t know if they even mark the actual graves anymore. It was sad to see.
Over to one side by some concrete blocks was a sad little grave nearly face down.
Looking toward Procter Creek, we saw more evidence of the chaos in the older section.
This one was a favorite of mine.
There were even a few for birds.
Walking over to the new section, the difference between the two is obvious. The grass is cut, the graves have been edged with a weed whacker (it looks like). The graves are mostly in neat rows. Also, many of the markers look very similar.
Lucifer reminded me of the comic strip dog, Marmaduke. His grave is one of the few that has a photo of the pet on it.
Most of the markers were more like this, small and square. This one is for a pet rabbit named Fiver. It was the only one (in the new section) I saw that was cracked like this.
It would be unfair of me to say that the owners of Pet Heaven have kept up the new section and abandoned the old one because I have no information about the history of the property. Maybe the land the old section is on was sold to someone else (or the City of Atlanta) and they can’t do anything to it. That’s not unheard of when it comes to cemeteries.
Or it may be the victim of continued vandalism, a phenomenon that seems to be getting worse every year.
At the same time, people are still burying their pets here. One of the markers I saw was for June 2014. And that’s a good thing. While they are growing in popularity, pet cemeteries are still hard to find in some parts of town.
There are too many questions about Pet Heaven that I don’t have the answers to. I would love to know who originally started it and what happened over the years. Why it’s a hidden little place that few people know about.
I’m hopeful that someone who knows more about this place will contact me so I can share it with you soon.