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The Not-so-spooky Presidio Pet Cemetery

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Welcome to Curbed's ongoing series titled Hidden History, where Curbed highlights a Bay Area location with a secret past. Maybe it's no longer there, maybe it's been converted into something else, but each spot holds a place in Bay Area history - even if not many people know it. Have a suggestion or know a place with a secret history? The tipline's always open or you can leave a comment after the jump.

Presidio Pet Cemetery [Photo: Orin Zebest]

Just in time for Halloween, this week's Hidden History focuses on the spooky ghostly world of cemeteries. But not just any ole eternal resting place - the Presidio Pet Cemetery.

The final resting place for hundreds of animals owned by families that were stationed at the Presidio, the pet cemetery dates back to the 1950's. According to the National Park Service, there are no official records for the site, meaning it probably sprung up from the families themselves with authorization from one of the commanding officers. There are legends of previous incarnations of the cemetery, which some believe was originally a burial ground for nineteenth-century cavalry horses or World War II guard dogs.

The sons of Capt. J. K. Moore pay tribute to their collie, Heidi, in 1957 [Photo: NPS]

The grave markers feature some heart-wrenching and historic details on the beloved pets, including their birthplace (like Patches the Cat born in Dachau), family names and owners' ranks, including majors, colonels, and generals. Some look like official military tombstones, due to Presidio Boy Scout volunteers who replaced crumbling markers sometime in the late 1980s or early 90s.

Presidio Pet Cemetery [Photo: Bunky's Pickle]

When the Presidio was in process of becoming a National Park, one (heartless?) congressman against the NPS conversion used the pet cemetery as fodder, sending letters to his supporters with a photo of the pet cemetery and the headline asking "Is This Your Vision of a National Park?" Apparently it was, because the Presidio became part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area in 1994 (though the cemetery is not included in the official National Historic Landmark district).

Presidio Pet Cemetery during construction of Doyle Drive [Photo: Telstar Logistics]

Today the cemetery is officially closed to new burials, but since it isn't patrolled, people still sneak in to bury their pets. When the Doyle Drive project began a few years ago, the pet cemetery was designated an "environmentally sensitive area," so it was protected from construction.
· Presidio Pet Cemetery [NPS]
· Presidio pet cemetery protected [SF Gate]
· List of Graves by Pet Name []
· Presidio Pet Cemetery Survives Toxic Scare [Found SF]