Local cemetery offering pet burials, other services

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By Calen McKinney



Even though rain falls steadily from the sky, the place is peaceful.

Headstone after headstone marks the final resting spot for Taylor Countians and their loved ones.

But in a place off the beaten path, the markers look a bit different. They also mark the final resting spots for loved ones, but for those with four legs.

Campbellsville Memorial Gardens has offered a pet garden, complete with burial services and headstones, for about a year now.

Gae Nolley, manager and counselor at Campbellsville Memorial Gardens, said the special garden began after clients asked if pets could be buried there.

“I had so many families say, ‘Could my baby be buried here?’”

Nolley said staff members received the request occasionally but hadn’t given it serious thought.

“So, it just kept being a thing,” she said. “They said, ‘Somebody needs to have a pet cemetery.’”

Before offering pet burials, Nolley said, a family told her they were going to take their pet to a cemetery in Lexington that offers the service.

“So then I knew right away there was a need.” After receiving so many requests, Nolley said she and other personnel from Saber Management LLC, the company that owns Campbellsville Memorial

Gardens, discussed making them a reality.

She said Saber Management offers pet gardens at some of its other locations, and staff members want to cater to their clients’ needs.

And in the past year, she said, three services have been performed for dogs of varying breeds.

“From huskies to bulldogs,” she said. “And we do have gravestones for them.”

Nolley said burials are offered for any type of pet. She said some residents have their pets cremated and then want to bury the ashes. The cost for a pet burial is less than $1,000, Nolley said. Pet burials include a vault, lot and marker.

“We do them just like we would an adult,” she said. “They’re buried with a little honor.”

Nolley said she knows of no other cemetery in Taylor County offering pet burials.

“So, we’re kind of distinct,” she said.

And local veterinarians seemed to be pleased about the service, Nolley said. Information about the burials is available at vet offices.

Nolley said the pet burial service is now a part of the presentation made to potential clients. Several people pre-plan their burials, she said, and one family has planned for burials of seven pets.

“They want to make sure they’re taken care of,” she said.

Nolley said the reactions she gets from clients who hear about the pet services are “Oh, you’re kidding” to “That is awesome.”

Although most families bury their pets in their backyards, she said, many have expressed interest in burying them at Campbellsville Memorial Gardens.

“The same ones that would take [their pets] to the groomer,” she said. “That’s the ones that want us.”

Nolley said she hasn’t publicized pet burials much, but plans to discuss them during upcoming seminars at Campbellsville Memorial Gardens.

“At least they have a choice,” she said. “That’s all I want them to know.”

David Sullivan, president of Saber Management, which is based in Kokomo, Ind., said pet burials is not a new phenomenon.

“The whole concept of pet burials has ... really gotten a lot of traction in the past 10 years,” he said.

“Owners consider pets very much part of the family.”

While Sullivan says the idea hasn’t caught on much in Kentucky, with only about six cemeteries offering the service, he expects that to change.

And Campbellsville Memorial Gardens offering the service, he said, shows that it is progressive.

“I think this is a trend that will continue to grow,” Sullivan said.