Pets no longer able to visit their fallen owners at Arlington Cemetery

Army Specialist Justin Rollins' family fought to bring home a puppy he held the night before he died in Iraq in 2007. The dog was eventually named Hero by Justin's family. (ABC News)

Pets of fallen servicemembers will no longer be able to visit their deceased masters at Arlington Cemetery, according to a statement released by the National Cemetery’s caretakers.

The decree -which went into effect yesterday- forbids animals not serving in a medical or duty function from being on the cemetery grounds and was enacted due to how the presence of pets “impacted the decorum” of the hallowed grounds.

“This policy has been deemed necessary to alleviate these impacts and continue to provide the type of respectful and contemplative space that Arlington National Cemetery strives to be for all its guests,” the ANC said in a statement on social media.

While the ANC says it is in the interests of respecting the dead, not everyone is thrilled.

Erika Searl of NYC takes her two terriers to the ANC when the visits her relative who was killed in World War II.

“It is a beautiful cemetery, and we think pets should be allowed if they (and their humans) are respectful and follow the cemetery rules by walking on the leash on the paths,” Searl told Military.com via email.

The ban on pets isn’t the only change- bicyclists will be forbidden from using the ANC as their own personal riding trail amidst complaints of disrupted funeral services and overall experience.

Despite the fact that cyclists and joggers have been a longstanding annoyance for grieving families and veterans who visit the ANC, the Arlington County Board and some bicycle advocacy organizations argued against the bicycle ban, asking for the change to be reconsidered.

The bans come as the ANC attempts to alleviate these [negative] impacts and continue to provide the type of respectful and contemplative space that Arlington National Cemetery strives to be,” according to the ANC statement, citing “legitimate safety concerns.”

While pets are banned, military/police working dogs and properly-credentialed service animals will continue to be permitted on the grounds.

A full text of the policy written by the Department of the Army can be found at regulations.gov.

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Author

  • Andy Wolf

    Andy Wolf is an Appalachian native who spent much of his youth and young adulthood overseas in search of combat, riches, and adventure- accruing decades of experience in military, corporate, first responder, journalistic and advisory roles. He resides in North Carolina's Blue Ridge Mountains with his K9 companion, Kiki.

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