People love their pets just as much as they do human members of the family. When a dog, cat, or any other type of pet passes on, it can be absolutely devastating for a family. The animals have nothing but kindness in their hearts and love to give, and when they are gone, it can feel like a piece of you is gone too.
That’s part of the reason why pet cemeteries are becoming so popular these days.
Burying a pet in a proper cemetery can give a family extra assurance that their beloved family member will be able to rest in peace versus burying them in some random spot in nature. Not only does it allow the family a quiet place to go visit their dearly departed pet if they are ever missing them, but it also gives the family a bit of closure so that they are able to move on. Unfortunately, things don’t always go as planned.
When a popular pet cemetery was closed down recently, thousands of pet owners found out the hard way that the laws surrounding pet cemeteries aren’t nearly as strict as they are for human resting places.
The cemetery in question is named Heavenly Acres Pet Cemetery and it’s located in Brighton, Michigan.
It is one of the largest pet cemeteries in the world, home to over 74,000 deceased pets. However, something many pet owners were never told upfront is that Heavenly Acres doesn’t actually own the land they were burying pets on. They leased it, and the business’s lease on the land expired on September 30, 2018.
Now pet owners are being presented with a harrowing choice.
They can either schedule a 3 to 4 hour time slot to exhume their dead pet’s body from the ground, or face never being able to visit them again. They have until September 7, 2019, to decide. After that date, no one will be allowed to enter the property again for any reason. Any attempt by families to go visit their pets again or dig them up after September 7 will be considered trespassing.
It’s a pretty horrible situation all around and neither choice is very palatable. Can you imagine how much grief it would cause a family to have to dig up their deceased pets — all in varying states of decomposition?
The cemetery has been in operation for over 40 years and many families have multiple dogs and cats buried there.
Around a month after the land lease expired, all of the pet owners received the surprise letter in the mail notifying them of their options.
One pet owner, Helen Boutorwick, described her experience.
“When I got that letter I just lost it,” Boutorwick told Livingston Daily. “They are acting like we have antique watches out there, not fur babies.”
Adding insult to injury was the fact that there are no longer any maps of the cemetery available for pet owners to use. For those who don’t have a good memory, trying to locate a pet’s grave amidst 74,000 other pets can be like searching for a needle in a haystack.
“We went to the bush and found the graves… I dropped to my knees in horror. My mother would be devastated,” Boutorwick said.
Boutorwick’s mother saved for years in order to be able to afford to bury her pets there.
A ceremony and burial at Heavenly Acres typically costs around $800. Boutorwick also added that without the maps, it took her and husband over two hours to locate the grave they were looking for. Other distraught families weren’t so lucky. They searched for the full four hours permitted and were unable to locate their pets.
While the whole situation is extremely depressing, sadly, there isn’t a whole lot that can be done about it.
According to Heavenly Acre’s lawyers, there were no laws broken. However, thousands of hearts certainly were. For any pet owners thinking about burying their beloved pets in one of these types of cemeteries in the future, we strongly suggest that you do as much due diligence into the business as possible to avoid something similar happening. No one should ever be forced to dig up their dead pet’s body.
See more photos from the pet cemetery below.
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