What is the K9 Corps?
The K9 Corps at Historic Congressional Cemetery is a private dog walking program, bringing life, community, and volunteerism to this extraordinary burial ground. Dog walking at the cemetery is a privilege permitted by membership only to active members in good standing who respect the space and its residents.
The purpose of the K9 Corps is to support the ongoing conservation work and public programming at Historic Congressional Cemetery. This is accomplished by each member’s ongoing volunteer work and annual membership fee. Non-member dog walking is only permitted with the purchase of a one-day pass ($10 per dog), and pass holders must follow K9 Corps rules. Interested dog walkers can apply to join the waitlist. Note: due to high demand, the waitlist is currently 4-5 years.
What are the requirements for membership?
K9 Corps membership is a privilege, not a right, and is maintained through an active relationship between dog owners and the cemetery. Members are required to submit a volunteer registration fee of $250 OR a non-volunteer registration fee of $340 with a $50 fee per dog (up to three dogs per family) annually. These fees support the ongoing work at HCC to preserve our sacred burial ground.
Additionally, volunteerism is at the core of the K9 Corps program. Each family that registers for a volunteer membership is required to commit to serving eight (8) volunteer hours annually in support of cemetery activities. Volunteer hours are a requirement because we wish for our members to be invested in the cemetery and in relationship with the staff, visitors, and other members. Volunteer opportunities are robust and vary from season to season. A current calendar of opportunities can be found here: https://signup.com/Group/597663324021/. In addition, we also ask for those members who register for a non-volunteer membership also assist in volunteer opportunities (though not required).
What types of volunteer opportunities are available?
Opportunities can be done as an individual or in groups, onsite or offsite, virtually or in-person. Our offerings include taking photographs, clerical work, conservation, clean-up, giving tours, working events, and more. If you need a special accommodation or project, one can be made for you. Please contact the office for a more personalized volunteer opportunity.
Why do I see so many closures to dogs each week? Is this common?
As an active burial ground, our first duty is to those interred on the site and to the families of those burying their loved ones. For this reason, we commit to providing a dog-free atmosphere during all burials out of respect for the bereaved. Typically, the cemetery is closed one hour prior to a burial until one hour after the burial. There is a bell we will ring 15 minutes before a service to announce the coming closure should any dogs be onsite prior to the closing. As we often cannot predict when our burial services will be needed more than a few days in advance, these closures can occur with limited notice to the K9 Corps. The K9 corps will be notified of these closures by text, email, and social media as the information becomes available. We appreciate your understanding when this occurs, and for your continued respect for our grieving families.
Additionally, we raise funds as a nonprofit by hosting private events and public programs. Closures to dogs coincide with these events, as well as for maintenance and conservation work. Your cooperation and understanding are appreciated as we continue to raise funds to keep our grounds beautiful and open for years to come.
The Cemetery is always closed to dog walking between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. every Saturday and on specific holidays, including Easter, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Veterans Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. Cemetery staff or the HCC Board of Directors may direct further closures on an as-needed basis. Thank you for your cooperation.
What are the rules and regulations once I become a member?
The K9 Corps Committee has established the following rules and regulations to ensure that the Cemetery remains both a safe and pleasant environment for all. Please review these carefully; members will indicate agreement to fully comply with all terms and conditions of K9 Corps membership by signing an Acceptance of Rules/Waiver and Release of Liability at their annual mandatory membership orientation. Payment of the day-pass fee by non-members signifies an agreement to follow all K9 Corps rules, which are posted at the HCC entrance. Those found in violation of any of these rules may have their privileges revoked immediately and without refund.
- Display of K9 Corps tag(s) at all times. No member dog may enter the Cemetery grounds without its current K9 Corps tag displayed. Should replacement tag(s) be needed, a fee of $20 will be charged for each new tag issued.
- Control of animals at all times. All members/dog walkers must be in control of their dog(s), and aware of the location(s) of the dog(s) at all times. This applies to K9 Corps members, day-pass holders, and any individual who brings a K9 Corps member dog to the cemetery.
- Limitation on dogs. Members/walkers are allowed to bring no more than three K9 Corps member dogs onto the HCC grounds at one time. Non-member dogs are not permitted without the purchase of a day pass.
- No exceptions policy on spay-neuter and vaccinations. All dogs walked in the Cemetery must be spayed or neutered and up-to-date on rabies and distemper vaccinations. Members and pass holders agree to provide such proof to HCC staff or the K9 Committee at any time upon request. Members must provide spay-neuter status and vaccination expiration dates at or after annual orientation, and pass holders at the time of their first day-pass purchase or upon request. Any and all dogs walked in the Cemetery must be spayed or neutered; no exceptions will be made to this policy, including for puppies that have not yet reached spay-neuter age.
- Cemetery closure to all dogs. The Cemetery is closed to dog walking between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. every Saturday and on specific holidays, including Easter, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Veterans Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. Cemetery staff or the HCC Board of Directors may direct further closures on an as-needed basis, such as in response to a declared public health emergency. Members will be notified of changes through signage and via email/text.
- Dog walking is prohibited during ALL burials and services. The Cemetery will also be closed at other times for special events, as announced in advance to the K9 Corps. Notifications of periodic closures for burials and events are sent via email to all members/walkers; posted on Twitter, Facebook, and CemeteryDogs.org; and signage indicating closure is placed at the HCC main gate. It is the walker’s responsibility to confirm that the Cemetery is open to dogs before visiting. To maintain the integrity of non-dog walking events, the owner of any dog found to be on the Cemetery grounds during closure hours will have their membership/day-pass privileges immediately revoked.
- Respect for HCC visitors and other dog walkers. Even during non-closure hours, dogs must be kept away from individuals visiting grave sites, as well as any burial services, ceremonies, group tours, grounds maintenance crews, and all other non-dog walking visitors and all dog walkers are expected to show respect to their fellow walkers. Any individual who engages in abusive, hostile, or other inappropriate behavior that potentially endangers the safety and well-being of others may be permanently banned from entering the Cemetery.
- Respect for HCC grounds. All members/walkers must be respectful of the Cemetery monuments and grave markers. Because of the risk of damage and/or injury, do not sit or lean on the gravestones. Dogs, children, and others must not climb on the grassy areas covering the family vaults. Out of concern for the monuments and grounds, the use of balls, Frisbees, or dog toys of any kind is not permitted in the Cemetery. Members and the public are prohibited from using or bringing onto Cemetery grounds any wheeled devices, including but not limited to bicycles or any self-balancing personal transporters (e.g., motorized or non-motorized scooters, skateboards, Segways, hoverboards, etc.). This prohibition does not apply to anyone who requires a medical device or uses a stroller or carrier exclusively for the purpose of carrying a child or pet.
- Cleaning up after dogs. Regardless of the weather or time of day or year, members/walkers must always clean up after all dogs, disposing of waste properly. If you see waste, please pick it up even if it was not left by your dog. Please bring a flashlight if you come after dusk.
- Leashing dogs for entry/exit. ALL dogs must be on leash while entering and exiting the gates. Signs are posted to indicate where it is permissible to unleash your dog. Members/walkers are also encouraged to “keep it moving” around the gates and other high-traffic areas to avoid critical masses of dogs, which can bring on aggressive behavior and incidents.
- Applicability of rules to professional dog walkers. Professional dog walkers must register with the Cemetery on an annual basis – providing any updates to contact and client information as needed – and complete the Acceptance of Rules/Waiver and Release of Liability. It is the responsibility of the K9 Corps member to ensure their dog walker is aware of this requirement. Professional dog walkers must adhere to all K9 Corps rules, including the limitation on walking no more than three member dogs at a time (non- member dogs are not permitted). If this policy is violated, both the walker and owner will receive a warning and, should a future violation occur, both walker and owner will be banned from dog walking in the cemetery.
- Applicability of rules to day-pass holders. As stated, individuals purchasing a one-day pass ($10 per dog) must adhere to all K9 Corps rules and regulations. Those found to be in violation will have their day-pass privileges permanently revoked and, per the decision of the K9 Committee, may be prohibited from obtaining future K9 Corps membership.
- Aggressive dogs and handling of incidents. Each and every incident of aggressive dog behavior that walkers are involved in, or witness must be reported via an Incident Report (hard copy available in HCC office). All walkers must strongly discourage rough or aggressive play by their dogs. Should an aggressive dog incident occur, the following apply:
- a) Apologies for aggressive behavior
- b) A report must be submitted to make HCC staff and the K9 Committee aware of each incident caused by an aggressive dog. The K9 Committee review these reports, in consultation with HCC staff. The K9 Committee will rule at its regular meetings on any action(s) necessary to enforce the K9 Corps rules.
- c) An exchange of contact information between parties will occur with every incident. If appropriate, parties are encouraged to resolve minor incidents among themselves. An incident report should still be submitted.
- d) Payment of any vet bills by the owner(s) of the aggressive dog(s) is mandatory.
- e) Dogs that engage in repeated instances of aggressive behavior may be required to be leashed or muzzled while on the cemetery grounds.
- f) Dogs that are deemed to be a danger (to humans, animals, or otherwise) by HCC and/or the K9 Committee will be banned from the Cemetery grounds.
- Membership terms and conditions. The 2022 K9 Corps membership term is January 10, 2022, through February 28, 2023. No more than 800-member dog permits/tags will be issued for this term, and only dogs that have been issued member tags are permitted to walk in the Cemetery. All dogs included in an individual K9 Corps membership must reside in the home of the member. Memberships are non-refundable and non-transferable.