Gay Desert Hot Springs

A Final Resting Place: The History Behind Desert Hot Springs’ Pet Cemetery, Haven for Pets

Posted on June 14, 2022

Coachella Valley Independent by Paul KoudounarisOctober 22nd, 2019

Paul Koudounaris
Liberty, Gerald Ford’s dog during his presidency, is buried at Haven for Pets. Credit: Paul Koudounaris

As Halloween approaches, people start to think about cemeteries—and the Coachella Valley has no lack of them, including the burial spots of numerous celebrities and other luminaries.

Yet the most intriguing cemetery of all, where some of the desert’s most beloved denizens have been laid to rest, remains nary an afterthought to even longtime residents. This would be Haven for Pets on Dillon Road in Desert Hot Springs, one of the oldest continually operating pet cemeteries in California—and to this day, the only officially licensed animal graveyard in Riverside County.

Pet cemeteries represent a curious subset among burial grounds. Many people know little to nothing about them, being more familiar with the fantasy horror version of them thanks to Stephen King. They are, in fact, a relatively new idea. Sure, people have been burying animals as far back as ancient times, and millions of animals were mummified and laid to rest in Ancient Egypt alone; many other cultures had similar practices. But these were sacred animals being offered to gods, not pets as we would know them.