MENANDS, N.Y. (NEWS10) — At first glance, it appears to be a regular field but take a closer look and you’ll find headstones. It’s the Mohawk Hudson Humane Society’s 75-year-old pet cemetery.
Established on October 21, 1948, the cemetery has become inactive in recent years, but now the humane society has begun a restoration project to bring the cemetery back to life.
Public Programs Coordinator Melanie Stevenson has been spearheading the restoration project. “Sadly, a lot of our records were lost over the years, so I’ve been going through old newspapers and searching through archives for anything we can find about the cemetery,” said Stevenson. “One day, an article fell into my lap that mentioned the opening of the cemetery. It is amazing how much information we can find in the community.”
Work has already begun to locate stones and clear out overgrown vegetation. Stevenson believes there are roughly 2,400 to 3,000 stones in the cemetery and said she’s seen report that there could be up to 4,000.
“We have had a lot of volunteers help uncover stones and raise ones that have been buried in the ground,” said Stevenson. “Our next phase is to map out the cemetery and figure out how far out the cemetery goes. We recently uncovered the portion of the cemetery where previous mascots of the humane society are buried. Every time I go out there, I always discover something new.”
Another notable animal buried in the cemetery is Cecilia, a brown-spotted Harbor seal who passed away from the pollution in the Hudson River in 1970. Stevenson says they will be actively searching for Cecilia’s stone.
Ashley Bouck, the CEO of MHHS, credits many volunteers who have been lending their time and expertise. “We are very fortunate for our volunteer groups. We’ve had everyone from Boy Scouts working on their Eagle Badge to the National Grid bringing machinery to help clear out the plantation to help find the perimeter of the cemetery. The Albany Rural Cemetery has been a fantastic partner as they provided a lot of information that pointed us in the right direction.”
Bouck says the hope is to reopen the cemetery in the upcoming year, but they need volunteers to help them find the buried headstones, clean them and raise them up above the grass. The process can take an hour for each headstone. “The restoration project is our way of keeping a promise to the people who entrusted their pets to us over the years. We want the pet cemetery to be something beautiful and become a place of comfort for pet owners.”
Mohawk Hudson Humane Society plans to showcase the restoration project, and other programming, at an event this weekend. Fall Fest will educate the public on what the humane society does and highlights the low-cost services they offer. The event will include vendors and activities, like making dog treats, as well as a walking tour of the pet cemetery.
Due to weather, the MHHS is asking the public to check out its Facebook page, at 5:00 P.M. on Saturday, to find out if the event will be taking place. The rain date for the event is November 5.
Information on the MHHS Pet Bereavement Support Group is available online.