Veterans will be maintaining San Francisco’s Pet Cemetery, located in the Presidio, as part of a new partnership between the Presidio Trust and the Swords to Plowshares Veterans Academy, say representatives for the Trust.
The partnership means that residents at the Presidio’s Veterans Academy, which is run by a veterans support nonprofit called Swords to Plowshares, will now be pulling weeds, removing invasive plants and picking up trash in the cemetery, among other maintenance activities.
The half-acre cemetery, located at the foot of McDowell Avenue beneath Doyle Drive, hosts plots for the pets of more than 2,000 military families that lived on the base in the 1950s.
In 2007, the Trust estimated that there were 420 headstones in the cemetery commemorating cats, dogs, birds, hamsters, lizards, and even goldfish. The Trust says that many of the grave markers reflect the pets’ military lifestyle, listing international birthplaces and bearing epitaphs like, “A GI Pet. He did his time.”
Presidio Trust spokeswoman Dana Polk said that the cemetery has been full and closed to new burials since 1963. Since that time, the Trust has been maintaining the grounds as one of the Presidio’s historical sites.
“The veterans who have made their home at the Veterans Academy in the Presidio are excited about the opportunity to help care for the Pet Cemetery,” said Michael Blecker, executive director of Swords to Plowshares. “For many veterans, volunteerism and partnerships like this allow them to give back and connect with the community.”
Although the cemetery is currently surrounded by construction fencing to protect it during the reconstruction of Doyle Drive, the Trust says it is still open to the public for visitation.