Arlington National Cemetery Bans Pets From Its Grounds

The low rising sun coupled with the fall colors of the trees blanket Arlington National Cemetery in a bounty of color.
U.S. Army photos by Sgt. Cody W. Torkelson

Arlington National Cemetery will banish pets from its 624 acres under a new policy taking effect Wednesday, cemetery officials announced.

In a notification Monday about the new rule, officials said pets have “impacted the decorum” of funeral services and ceremonies at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

“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,” a statement from the cemetery reads.

Current policy states well-behaved pets on leashes are allowed in every part of the cemetery besides John F. Kennedy’s grave. Washingtonian Magazine, NBC News and other news outlets and websites have touted Arlington National Cemetery as a pet-friendly attraction.

Under the new policy, only service animals and working military dogs will be allowed on cemetery grounds.

Related: A Memorial Day Tribute To The Souls Of Arlington Cemetery »

The ban on pets is part of a set of updates to cemetery policy that all take effect Wednesday, including the closure of the cemetery to bicyclists.

In a statement issued Oct. 17, cemetery officials wrote bicyclists disrupt funeral services, affect other visitors’ experiences and pose safety concerns.

The Arlington County Board and bicycle advocacy organizations in Arlington and nearby Fairfax County argued against the bicycle ban, and about a dozen individuals wrote comments asking officials to reconsider it when they proposed the rule in May.

Cemetery officials have reiterated in announcements about the changes that their primary mission is to “lay to rest those who have served our nation with dignity and honor.”

Full text of the policy changes at Arlington National Cemetery can be found at


© 2016 the Stars and Stripes. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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