Dave Gordon, the manager of the Hillside Acre Animal Cemetery, watches over the more than 18,000 pets — and 10 of their masters — that make their final resting place here., VALLEY DISPATCH/JENNIFER AMY MYERS
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BY JENNIFER AMY MYERS, Dispatch Staff

METHUEN — Dave Gordon of Methuen is the properties manager of the Hillside Acre Animal Cemetery at Nevins Farm on Broadway.

The cemetery, operated by the MSPCA — Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals — has been in business since 1918.

Q: How many animals are interred here?

There are over 18,000 animals, and actually 10 people’s ashes are buried here with their pets. There are many more that when they pass away, it’s in their wills that their ashes will be put with their pets.

Q: How did you get into this line of work?

Q: What is the most unusual animal that has been laid to rest here?

Um. . . I’m going to say a monkey. We have three monkeys here.

Q: Do animals get buried in caskets?

Yes. We have a plastic casket, sealed real tight so no air gets in and nothing gets out. Way back they used to build caskets here, wooden caskets, and bury them in wooden caskets.

Q: Have you had any unusual requests?

Not so much for burials, but for cremations we have people that want a lock of hair. We actually had someone, a few weeks ago, ask if we could pull a tooth. We can’t do that.

Q: Do people purchase a family plot?

Yes. We can bury animals on top of each other. We can fit two large dogs, three to four medium dogs or six to eight cats in one lot.

Q: Do animals often get buried with favorite toys or other items?

Q: Are animals dressed or groomed before they are buried?

Some of them have dog sweaters on. There are a lot of different things that people will do, special bows, some of the poodles or fancier dogs will wear ribbons on their heads or whatever. We see a lot of different things.

Q: How much does animal burial cost?

For a brand-new lot, it’s $640. But, again, with that lot you can place multiple pets. That includes the cost of opening the site, doing the actual burial, closing the site, cost of the casket and perpetual care. We take care of the cemetery, cutting, watering, weed-whacking.

Q: I understand you have some military heroes buried here?

Yes we do. We have seven military dogs here. We have a special memorial day on the second Sunday of September, Pet Memorial Sunday, where people gather here and we have a red, white and blue carnation together and place them on the graves of those veteran dogs.

Q: Were the military dogs actually in wars?

Yes, they were in the wars. We actually have one who was over in France, ended up dying in France and was brought back here for burial.

Q: Have you seen the movie, Pet Sematary?

No. (Laughter). No. No.

Have a story idea? E-mail Jen Myers at jmyers@thevalleydispatch.com.