How a Haunted ‘Pet Graveyard’ Helped the Hamden Animal Shelter Cause

HAMDEN – An animatronic dragon connected to a smoke machine. Zombies coming out of the ground. Jumping spiders and talking skeletons. Homemade tombstones and cemetery gate.

These spooky sights haunted visitors to Hamden’s ‘pet cemetery’ this month, but guests haven’t come just to be afraid.

They came for a good cause: The Cemetery Sextons, who in their day-to-day work run the Spring Glen Veterinary Clinic, raised over $ 2,000 in donations for the town’s animal shelter donation fund.

For years, advocates have pushed the city, which currently rents space in the North Haven facility, to have an animal shelter, with groups such as Gimme Shelter raising funds to achieve this goal.

Supporters for the cause include the couple behind the Whitney Avenue-based veterinary practice.

“I feel like it’s a little unacceptable that a town like Hamden has to outsource its cages to other shelters,” said Dr Rich Magliula, the veterinarian who owns the company.

He and his wife Kayla Magliula run the clinic as a team, with Kayla running the office and handling customer service issues.

She feels the same about the need for an animal shelter.

“It’s a huge city and we don’t have our own (facility),” Kayla Magliula said.

“Hamden can do better than that. We can do better than that. We can take care of our own pets, you know, homeless, ”she said.

She also enjoys arts and crafts, Halloween and animatronics.

But the idea for the fundraiser came “by accident,” according to Kayla Magliula, who said a passerby who asked to take a photo with the clinic’s animatronic dragon suggested Magliula make donations for the clinic. photo shoots.

As a fundraiser for an animal shelter took shape, the community mobilized. Counter Weight Brewing Co. provided free beer for the event, Magliula said, and Paul & Eddy’s Pizza, which is next to the clinic, stepped in to feed hungry visitors to the cemetery. .

The Strong Kitchen and Little Rabbit Baking Co., two other businesses in the area, provided the dessert, according to Magliula, who said Hamden Memorial Funeral Home also donated the use of a hearse.

Meanwhile, Magliula teamed up with Rae Roylance, a colleague and veterinary technician with a background in carpentry, to build the cemetery.

They got creative. Magliula built a witch’s cauldron, putting a mixture of oatmeal and Mod Podge on the sides, so it seemed to overflow. Inside, foggers made it look like it was cooking, she said.

To build the cemetery gate, the team pieced together stiff foam insulation with glue and toothpicks, according to Roylance.

“We carved out a bit on the foam itself with sculpting tools… (to) simulate cracks,” she said.

They then covered the foam with Drylock, a product typically used to waterproof basements, according to Roylance.

“Then we used (diluted) acrylic paint … (to) wash it all in a few different colors to make it look like a bit of moss was on it and the rain had changed the stone over time. time, ”she said. noted.

According to Rich Magliula, some of the company’s clients even donated time to help build the display.

The name “pet cemetery” was a nod to Stephen King, he said. (The author has a 1983 novel titled “Pet Sematary. ”)

“We called it a pet cemetery just because we’re a pet hospital, and I had a few… skeleton cats and dogs out front,” Kayla Magliula said.

The event grossed more than $ 2,000, said Rich Magliula.

The couple were due to hand over a check Thursday to Police Chief John Sullivan, who has previously spoken about the importance of having a shelter, which would be used by Hamden’s animal control officers.

“It’s a good thing they’re doing, and I look forward to doing the presentation with them this week and I appreciate the community members who support (the shelter),” Sullivan said.

In the end, the organizers were surprised by the sums of money generated by the event.

“I would have been happy with $ 500… what we got was huge,” said Kayla Magliula. “It was better than I could have imagined.”

“I love that my wife and Rae did all the work, and I love that the city came to support hell… especially for a first year,” said Rich Magliula. “I was pleasantly surprised. The townspeople stuck it out and introduced themselves … Honestly, I’m quite proud of them and take pride in taking care of their pets.

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