NORTH BRUNSWICK – Pet owners now have a place to honor their fur babies after the animals have passed.
The Pet Memorial Garden is next to the Dog Park at North Brunswick Community Park, Route 130. An unveiling and ribbon cutting ceremony was held on July 18, although the garden will not officially open to the public until after Aug. 6.
“We hope we created this beautiful place to reflect on memories in a place they [the owner and pet] both shared,” said Lou Ann Benson, director of the North Brunswick Department of Parks, Recreation and Community Services.
The garden setting was the idea of Mayor Francis “Mac” Womack and his wife, Carol. The layout of stone pavers, multiple benches and a heart-shaped center was designed by Robert Bongiovi, supervisor of the Parks Department, with other members of the parks staff, according to Benson. Owners will be able to place their pet’s name on a plate on a boulder in memoriam.
“Most of us or all of us lost a pet, and there is just no way to describe rationally how deeply that affects you because you love them so much,” Womack said, joking that during election season, candidates are often greeted by more and more dogs when campaigning door to door.
He also credited the work of the North Brunswick Humane Association (NBHA), whose members have been very supportive of the project.
“You make our community rise in a way that makes me truly proud,” he said of their activism.
“We enjoy our wonderful relationship with the township,” NBHA member Michele Andrea said. “They are very supportive and we are very supportive of them. This is one additional example of coming together for a mutual cause and we are delighted.”
Several members of the NBHA were in attendance for the ribbon cutting ceremony.
Jane and Dave Prestup of East Brunswick lost their Maltese two years ago, and their dog Princess 18 years ago. They have now rescued Tiny, a Shih Tzu-Lhaso Apso mix, and King, a Bichon Frise.
“I can’t wait to get their paw print with their names [on a boulder],” Jane Prestup said of her deceased pets. “It’s magnificent, it’s the first word I used. It’s very meaningful. It’s a good place to sit …”
“… and just relax,” Dave Prestup finished.
Another member of the NBHA, Jennifer Peppe, an art teacher at Livingston Park Elementary School, has been creating pet portraits for about six years.
“I love animals and I’m an art teacher so I put it all together,” she said, noting that she takes a lot of photos and turns them into portraits, fitting for the theme of the evening.
Rules and regulations for the memorial garden are still being worked on and should be posted after the Aug. 6 Township Council meeting.
The NBHA will hold its annual Dog Walk-a-Thon and Dog Adoption Day event from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sept. 16 at Community Park, 2053 Route 130 south, North Brunswick. Rain date is Sept. 30. There will be a dog walk, dog adoptions from rescues and shelters, dog activities, a costume contest, a scavenger hunt, musical mats, food vendors and entertainment by DJ Tim O’Brien.
Pre-registration is $15 for the first dog and $20 on the day of the event. Each additional dog is $5. Event day registration begins at 10 a.m. To download the registration form, visit www.northbrunswickhumane.org.
Contact Jennifer Amato at email@example.com