A new section in a Maryland cemetery will be open to veterans who wish to be buried alongside their service animals or military working dogs.
Resthaven Memorial Gardens, on the northern edge of Frederick along the Monocacy River, has opened the Faithful Companions Honor Garden, which features larger burial spaces designed to accommodate such final requests.
"Resthaven has been doing pet burials since 1970," said Jon Cody, the cemetery's vice president of operations. "We were already doing it for all families and their pets," but the new honor garden is a first for the cemetery.
The cemetery provides what it calls "courtesy space" to veterans, and will make the same offer to their animals. Maryland law requires money to be set aside for the care and maintenance of each plot, Cody said, so Resthaven asks for a $239.50 contribution for any space in the Faithful Companions Honor Garden. The money goes into a trust fund that has been set up for the future care and maintenance of the cemetery, Cody said.
The "courtesy space" offer will apply to military working dogs and service animals that are adopted by nonmilitary caregivers, he said.
"Our idea was to provide a courtesy space for those combat dogs, giving them the same honor that we would a human veteran," Cody told the Frederick News-Post.
"It’s an extension of what we do — to memorialize with honor, commitment and dignity," he added. "We want to make sure the dogs themselves are being honored, and the soldiers, and the bond between them."
The memorial garden sits empty between the cemetery’s third veterans' section, called the Veterans Garden of Valor, and its section reserved for pets, called the Garden of Faithful Friends. Commemorative bronze artwork planned for the garden is a "work in progress," Cody said.
A rendering of the proposed dedication plaque for the Faithful Companions Memorial Gardens at Resthaven Memorial Gardens in Frederick, Maryland.
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Resthaven