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On the job

Pet cemetery owner provides ‘death with dignity’

Ed Hildebrandt says families often bury pets with notes, or a biscuit to have in heaven.

Debee Tlumacki for the Boston Globe

Ed Hildebrandt says families often bury pets with notes, or a biscuit to have in heaven.

Bereaved pet owners will often spare no expense to bury their beloved companion, said Ed Hildebrandt, proprietor of Pleasant Mountain Pet Rest in Plymouth.

It’s not unusual for a longtime family pet to receive a burial with flowers, casket, grave marker, and poetry readings said Hildebrandt, 74, who bought the cemetery almost four decades ago.

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“I initially got into this line of work because returning the dignity of pets really appealed to me and still does to this day,” Hildebrandt said.

What sort of animals are buried at Pleasant Mountain Pet Rest?

I won’t take farm animals, although I do have a couple pot-bellied pigs here. I have white rats that were family pets as well as rabbits and one boa constrictor. I also accept gerbils. Sometimes parents want to teach children about the dying process and ask to have the gerbils buried here. We don’t charge a lot of money because the grave is so small.

How much does it cost for pet burial?

Let’s take a cocker spaniel as an example. For a medium-sized animal like this to be buried here with a complete package – plot, casket, marker, and, in our case, perpetual care of the grave – is $400 to $450; for smaller animals such as cats, $375 to $400; larger dogs are $450 to $500. Cremation for a cocker spaniel, on the other hand, is cheaper, at $150.

What are some epitaphs on the graves?

Some of the grave markers say, “Siam, 1988-1997, You were purrr-fect,” “Spunky, 1975-1983, Our family boss,” “Merry Mug Winston, Now Cracks a Noble Heart, Good Night Sweet Prince.”

Do some people bury multiple pets?

A wealthy lady from Marblehead told her executors she wanted all her pets be interred in a cemetery of her choice, which happened to be mine. She had urns all over her house with pets that had been cremated over the years. The executor of the estate approached me. I asked how many animals and she said 51. So all the pets are in one large plot with 51 animals, all in urns.

What items do people bury with their pets?

It’s often heart wrenching. Kids write their last goodbyes and place the piece of paper in the casket. Others put in religious items such as crosses or crucifixes. Others put food in a basket or maybe a biscuit to have in heaven.

 A lot of them say at the viewing, “I know you think this is crazy but I want to put this in.” Some of the oddest things were locks of hair or even a McDonald’s hamburger.

Cindy Atoji Keene can be reached at cindy@cindyatoji.com.
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