LUBBOCK, Texas — Joey Hernandez has a passion for animal rescue. He’s previously rescued two cats from the apartment fire at the Boulders at Lakeridge and now he’s honoring stray animals in a special way.

Hernandez has started burying stray animals that pass in his backyard. These animals often go their entire lives without finding a forever home or a family and can pass away alone on the side of the road. 

“They’re our best friends, like dogs and cats. I don’t know who can drive by and just let them sit there and not have any emotional pull on their heart,” said Hernandez. 

Instead, Hernandez has offered them a final resting spot together so they are no longer forgotten. 

“I take them back here to the treeline and I put them in the ground, I bury them with a little flower, little whatever I can . Even though they’re animals and dogs, cats, whatever, you know, just being there, possibly, hopefully, in the final moments, you know, if we can’t save them at least they didn’t die alone and they’re not going to be forgotten,” said Hernandez. 

Hernandez has now laid three animals to rest. 

“They’re starving, they’re frozen, they’re hit by cars, Bandit from yesterday, the dog that we buried yesterday was hit by somebody who just drove off because they didn’t care. Well, we didn’t know that Bandit had owners until after we buried him.Somebody reached out and said that was his dog and it gave the gentleman peace knowing that his dog was not on the side of the road dead,” said Hernandez. 

While Hernandez is out in the county and allowed to bury these animals in his backyard, Lubbock Animal Services has other recommendations for those within the city limits.

“It is against city ordinance to bury a pet in your backyard and there’s a couple of reasons for that, first and foremost, as it can attract other predators to come in and dig up the body and make a mess of things. And so we ask that people bring their animals here for us to remove them or to dispose of them or to call a pet crematorium,” said Steven Greene, Director at Lubbock Animal Services. 

Hernandez hopes these strays do not go forgotten. 

“I was in the military for a long time. Never leave a fallen comrade, you know, so if somebody dies overseas you don’t just leave them there. You stay with them till the mission is over and that’s kind of the same thing over here, said Hernandez, “When I’m in the kitchen and when I’m cooking, when I’m walking around, I always take a glance out here and I specifically see these trees where these animals are buried and it’s like they’re not forgotten.”

For families who have lost a furry friend, Cimarron Pet Cemetery and Crematory offers private cremation and cemetery services. You can find their website here for more information. 

Cimarron also offers some services free of charge to service members and first responders.