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Old pet cemetery holds stars

Alexandre Dumas’ dog and Rin Tin Tin buried in Paris ground

MANY visitors to Paris will head for the Père-Lachaise cemetery to see the famous graves there, but another less-well-visited cemetery is worth a call – Paris Dog Cemetery.

The most famous resident of the Cimetière des Chiens on an island at Asnières-sur-Seine is film star Rin Tin Tin.

The german shepherd starred in several Hollywood films but was born in France and was saved as a puppy by American servicemen Lee Duncan who had found him in a bombed kennel. He was named after a puppet that French children had given him for luck.

Duncan took him back to Los Angeles and eventually made him a star. When Rin Tin Tin died in 1932 in Los Angeles, Duncan arranged to have the body returned to France so he could be buried in the country where he had been born.

The cemetery was set up in 1899 by suffragette journalist Marguerite Durand and lawyer Georges Harmois and holds more than just dogs – its full title is Société française anonyme du Cimetière pour
Chiens et Autres Animaux Domestiques. It is the resting place of Ms Durand’s pet lion, called Tigre, which she often walked in the streets of Paris.

Elsewhere the cemetery has Sully, the pet dog of Alexandre Dumas; two racehorses, TsoyTong and Masseraux; actor and author Sacha Guitry’s cat Désiré; a monument to police dogs, a statue erected to a heroic St Bernard that saved 41 lives in the Grand St Bernard pass – and a monkey.

The cemetery opened after the city of Paris decreed dead pets could no longer be dumped in the Seine – it is thought to be the oldest pet cemetery in the world.

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