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IN LOVING MEMORY: On Day of the Dead, Mexicans Visit Man's Best Friend

Laurent Thomet - Agence France-Presse
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November 3, 2013

View of graves at the pet cemetery in Corregidora, State of Queretaro, Mexico on November 1, 2013, a day before the commemoration of the Day of the Dead. (AFP/Alfredo Estrella)

CORREGIDORA, Mexico – The Narvaez family congregated around the tiny dirt grave of their loved one on Mexico's Day of the Dead, laid a handful of marigolds and recalled the joy he brought to their home.

Mexicans flock to cemeteries every November 1 and 2 to honor their dead, bringing them flowers, their favorite foods or tequila in a centuries-old tradition mixing pre-Hispanic and Catholic beliefs.

Except the Narvaez clan was visiting a different kind of family member, one that died last year after a suspected poisoning took his ninth life: Their beloved Siamese cat Facundo.

"Animals are part of the family too. They're affectionate, like humans," said 38-year-old jewelry shop owner Raul Narvaez, visiting the grave with his wife and two teenage sons.

Narvaez crouched down to wipe the dust off the tiny ceramic headstone at the pet cemetery of Corregidora, a suburb of the city of Queretaro in central Mexico.

Pets named Elvis, Ozzy, Cherry and Zeus are among more than 1,000 animals buried in the cemetery that veterinarian Manuel Solorio has maintained for three decades.

Dotted with lime trees and cactus, the burial site mostly contains dogs, but there are some cats, a rabbit, a hamster and a mouse.

The care put into the graves points to the evolving relationship between Mexicans and their estimated 26 million cats and dogs, in a country still confronting animal cruelty but that also spends $2.2 billion in pet products.

Most graves are marked with a small tile and a dog tag, but several are decorated with fences, flowers and their animal's favorite ball, penguin squeaky toy or teddy bear.

"People have changed the way that they think about pets. Before, it was a just an animal. Now, they're like children," said Solorio, who charges between $38 and $76 to bury pets, depending on their size.

In the past, it was common for Mexicans to leave their dead animals in a dumpster or bury them in backyards.

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  Check out Friends of Puerto Vallarta Animals

  Check out Jaltemba Bay Animal Rescue (JBAR)

  Check out Mexican Strays

  Check out MexPup Adoptions & Foster Homes

  Check out No Borders Animal Rescue Society

  Check out Paraiso Felino Cat Shelter

  Check out PEACEAnimals Free Mobile Spay/Neuter Clinics

  Check out PuRR Project No Kill Feline Shelter/Adoption

  Check out SayulitAnimals

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CHARITY ALERT Vallarta Botanical Garden Needs Your Help

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Please write and ask TripAdvisor why all other Cabo Corrientes attractions are still on the Puerto Vallarta page while only the Garden was removed.

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