Peninsula pet cemetery removal


In 2021, RSPCA Victoria consulted with the community about its plans to remove the pet cemetery at the RSPCA Peninsula Animal Care Centre. The current pet cemetery at RSPCA Peninsula is over 20 years old. Despite our best efforts to maintain it, its condition has deteriorated greatly during this time and many of the leases for the plots have now expired. We plan to re-purpose the land where the current cemetery lies to extend our facilities and services for animals at our Peninsula site.

RSPCA Victoria conducted a three-month consultation process with plot owners and carefully considered all feedback received. We are very grateful to everyone who provided feedback.

RSPCA Victoria has made the decision that we will be moving forward with the plan to create a new memorial site at RSPCA Peninsula that will commemorate the lives of the pets buried there.

We have had numerous conversations via phone and email with individuals who provided their feedback as part of the consultation process, and understandably they have been difficult conversations for all involved, as this news has evoked memories of losing really loved members of their families. Pets are a part of the family, and nobody understands that better than RSPCA Victoria. While it is difficult, this decision has been made so that we can service the community with animal care and protection well into the future.

We recently invested in the services of a company that used a ground penetrating radar (GPR) to provide us with information we need to move forward with relocating pets carefully and respectfully to the new memorial site.

We are currently working out the details of when these changes will happen, but please rest assured that no changes will be made until we have provided a more detailed update to you on the process and timeframes. This will involve sending letters to plot owners with plans and timelines for the removal. Owners will also have the ability to request that their pet’s remains are cremated and returned to them.

Why is RSPCA Victoria planning to remove the cemetery?

The current pet cemetery at RSPCA Peninsula is over 20 years old. Despite our best efforts to maintain it over this time, its condition has deteriorated greatly and many of the leases for the plots have now expired. We plan to re-purpose the land where the current cemetery lies to extend our facilities and services for animals at our Peninsula site.

RSPCA Victoria will create a new memorial to celebrate the life of these pets – the design of this memorial is yet to be decided. We have made the difficult decision to create a new memorial at the site and engage a specialist service to carefully and respectfully relocate pets to the new memorial (unless their owners have requested that their remains are cremated and returned to them).

We hope that a new memorial will provide a more beautiful place to acknowledge the memory of these pets.

What did the consultation process involve?

Before a decision was made we consulted thoroughly with the plot owners who would be impacted. We undertook the following steps in September 2021:

  • We sent letters to approximately 800 pet owners with plots informing them of our intentions to relocate the pets’ remains to a new memorial site.
  • We called 30 donors to give them special notice.
  • We opened a three-month consultation period from October 2021, during which plot owners could provide their feedback on our intentions via email or phone, or provide suggestions for a new memorial design.
  • Upon being contacted by approximately 70 plot owners with feedback, we carefully considered all information and made the decision to proceed with removal of the cemetery. The majority of the feedback indicated that while some people were disappointed, they understood the reasons for the proposed changes.
  • This decision has been communicated to those who have provided feedback so far.
  • Once we have engaged a specialist service with the expertise to carefully exhume the pets’ remains and create a design for the new memorial, we will contact all plot owners again informing them of our plans. We expect this to occur in April. No changes to the cemetery will occur before we have communicated with plot owners by distributing letters with plans and timelines for the removal.

It should be noted that as some of these plots are over 20 years old, we do not have current addresses for some plot owners and have been unable to reach them.

What is the history of the cemetery?

The pet cemetery along Robinsons Road was inherited by RSPCA Victoria from Animal Aid when we first purchased the site. Members of the community paid a small fee to commemorate their pets by placing an engraved plaque and burying their animals at the cemetery. This fee covered a lease that ensured their plot would remain for a period of 20 years. Many of these leases have now expired and, despite our best efforts to maintain it, the condition of the cemetery has greatly deteriorated over this time. Additionally, the community need for animal care and protection continues to grow.

We need more space to expand our services and facilities to care for vulnerable animals and educate the community. We will use this location for this expansion of our vital services.

I paid for the spot, why are you removing it?

Most of the plots that run alongside Robinsons Road have now reached the end of their 20-year lease. With the cemetery over 20 years old and its condition continuing to deteriorate want to create a more beautiful place of reflection that accurately represents the love and bond owners had with the pets that were buried there.

If your plot lease is yet to expire, we are hoping that you can still see this as an opportunity to create a new memorial site for your pet. We believe this will be a much nicer experience for pet owners to honour the memory of beloved pets, as well as members of the public who to come visit RSPCA Peninsula.

We also plan to use the space to cater for our growing need to support animals with care and community education.

What will be done with my pet when you remove the cemetery?

We recently invested in the services of a company that used a ground penetrating radar (GPR) to provide us the information we need to move forward with relocating pets carefully and respectfully to the new memorial site.

Our plan is to engage experts to guide us on the process of carefully and respectfully, relocating pets to the new memorial site. No changes will be taking place to the cemetery until we have provided a more detailed update to the individuals on the process and timeframes.

What are you going to use the current cemetery site for?

RSPCA Peninsula has undergone many changes recently to improve the facilities and provide high quality care to the animals on our site. We also have a growing education program that aims to improve community knowledge about animal welfare.

While we don’t have a formal plan yet of how we intend to use this space, we do know that animal welfare needs continue to grow in the community, and we need more space to expand our facilities and allow us to care for and promote their wellbeing.

What will the memorial look like?

We don’t have a design yet, however, are in the process of coming up with one. We want it to be a physical place of reflection on site at RSPCA Peninsula. It could be in the form of a plaque, or a sculpture, for example. We plan to carefully exhume the pets and relocate them to this new memorial site.

Can I visit the grave before it is removed?

Of course. However, if you haven’t visited in a while, please know that the condition of the pet cemetery has deteriorated over the years so it may not look like how you remember it.

To make an appointment to visit the cemetery please contact Erin Dann, Head of People & Infrastructure, via edann@rspcavic.org.au.

I wanted my other pet/s at home to be buried in this cemetery.

We understand that you wanted to bury your pets together and are sorry this will not be possible. Most of these burial plots are over 20 years old and the cemetery itself has not been open for new burial sites since then. This will be the case with the new memorial also.

Can I bring my pet home with me?

Our plan is to engage experts to guide us through the process of carefully and respectfully relocating pets to the new memorial site. If you would like to take your pet home with you, we will do our best to ensure this is possible.

You can contact Erin Dann, Head of People & Infrastructure, via edann@rspcavic.org.au.

Will all cemeteries at Peninsula be removed?

We would like to create a new memorial site for all pets that are buried at our Peninsula cemetery. While not all the plot leases have expired, we see this as an opportunity to create a beautiful place of reflection that better represents the wonderful life you gave them.

The current cemetery has greatly deteriorated over the years, and we want to rectify this by creating a nicer site for you to visit and for members of the public to pay their respects to.

Can I collect my plaque?

You are more than welcome to visit RSPCA Peninsula and see the cemetery. However please remember the cemetery is over 20 years old and has deteriorated over the years.

You are also very welcome to visit and collect your pet’s plaque (and any other special items on their grave) or we can organise to send it to you. If this is something you would like to do, please contact Erin Dann, Head of People & Infrastructure at edann@rspcavic.org.au.

Sadly, please note that over the years some of the plaques have deteriorated or are missing.