There is a quiet oasis in West County where people go to remember and pay tribute to their late pets.
Wildwood resident Dr. Dennis Eschbach, a pet chiropractor, has had 13 pets buried over about 20 years at Memory Park Pet Cemetery, located at 1457 Boly Lane in Twin Oaks. He and his wife have four more plots reserved for their current dogs.
“We wanted a nice place to be able to visit them after they were gone,” said Eschbach, who described Memory Park as a “perfect, very calm and peaceful place that they keep up beautifully.”
Memory Park was founded in 1960 and includes about six acres off Big Bend Road near Hwy. 141. Owner Gary Baute, who has been involved with the pet cemetery for about eight years, said there are about 3,000 pets buried there, “mostly dogs and cats, but also hamsters, rabbits, ferrets, rats, birds, turtles and other animals.”
Baute came on board when he purchased the site from its original owner, the late Gene Eder, who started the cemetery after people asked to have their pets buried on what was then farmland.
“Land records stipulate this property must be kept a pet cemetery for eternity, so no one can ever build here,” Baute said.
Baute is the only staff, but some pet owners with animals there regularly come to volunteer, planting grass, watering and fertilizing the property.
On a recent Sunday morning, Mike Boll was weed-whacking and Austin Netteler was watering out of a 55-gallon tank on the back of his pickup truck.
Boll, a St. Louis police officer, has a Labrador retriever, Riley, buried at Memory Park.
“Burying him here was a way for me not to let him go fully, and taking care of the area is kind of therapy for me,” he said.
Netteler, of DeSoto, visits every Sunday, often putting out toys, dog biscuits, hamburgers or doughnuts where his three dogs are buried.
“They were my boys,” he said, adding, “I meet a lot of nice people here.”
Nearby, Corinne Schneiderjon, 92, was visiting the grave of her late daughter’s long-haired dachshund, Molly. She visits at least three times a week and has decorated Molly’s grave with flowers, solar lights and a pinwheel.
“It’s heaven on earth here,” Schneiderjon said.
Area veterinarians often recommend Memory Park when family members ask about a cemetery.
“I’ll pick up the animal from the vet, and we’ll have a graveside service here,” Baute said.
“We give the family a little time, and then I’ll ask permission to read a poem. Then we seal the casket and do the burial.”
Caskets ranging from 10-52 inches are provided as part of his service. The cost starts at about $500 for a complete burial, varying on the size of casket; hand-etched, granite headstones start at $200 and can have a photo.
“We also have cremations, though we have a contractor do that,” Baute said.
Baute does about six to 10 burials a month and enjoys the families he has come to know.
“Pets, to some people, are more important than their human relations,” he said. “The pet is always there when the times are good or bad.”
For more information, call (314) 576-3030, email email@example.com, or visit memoryparkpetcemetery.info.