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Thursday, October 06, 2022

Garden of Love cemetery provides final resting place for pets

<p>Garden of Love Pet Memorial Park provides a range of options for pet owners to bury their pets with all the dignity and splendor of their human counterparts.</p>

Garden of Love Pet Memorial Park provides a range of options for pet owners to bury their pets with all the dignity and splendor of their human counterparts.

For those who believe all dogs go to heaven, there is a place that sends family pets into the afterlife in the most dignified way possible.

Garden of Love Pet Memorial Park, on U.S. 441 in Micanopy, is a pastoral setting for pet owners to bury their beloved companions with all the care and attention of a real funeral home.

A winding dirt road curves up from the highway to the center of the park where Spanish moss dangles from willow branches that dip nearly to the ground.

According to its website, Garden of Love offers many of the same services as a funeral home.

Most of the headstones inside the cemetery bear inscriptions and pictures of cats and dogs. But the park also serves as a final resting place for a goat, a rat, a squirrel, a hamster, a duck, a cockatiel and a horse.

Burials are by appointment only, and pet owners can choose a casket, burial site and custom headstone.

Caskets are also available by request for home burials.

Pets may also be cremated with the option to have their ashes scattered in the garden surrounding a statue of St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals.

J.J. Lawrence and his fiancee, Lisa West, of Inglis, discovered Garden of Love during a 2004 trip to Micanopy.

Lawrence said the park is one of their favorite haunts.

On Sunday, Lawrence and West visited the park with their three dogs, Brandy, Jack Jack and Rosita Melita Chiquita Juanita Chi Chi Chihuahua, whom they call Rosita for short.

"We let our dogs run around here because it's good karma," Lawrence said. "You can tell [the buried pets'] owners loved them."

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Headstones inside the cemetery bear epitaphs such as "Run free with God's angels ‘til we meet again," for Encke the cat and "The Greatest Dog That Ever Lived" for Gretchen Kilfeather, who lived to be 10 years old.

Established in 1980 by Dot and Frank Stout, Garden of Love was designed to comfort pet owners through their loss by creating a final resting place of splendor and tribute, according to the park's website. All pets are welcome.

Garden of Love Pet Memorial Park provides a range of options for pet owners to bury their pets with all the dignity and splendor of their human counterparts.

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