Dog Exhumed & Cremated; Unbeknownst To Owners
NEW YORK – The Hartsdale pet cemetery, known as the nation's first pet burial grounds, is taking heat from a New Jersey couple who claims their dog was unearthed – and its plot resold.
John Tsun and his wife buried their dog in the cemetery in 2000, so that a few times each year they could visit their beloved Do-Do. But this fall when they came to put a pumpkin on his headstone, they found it had been removed – and his body exhumed.
According to cemetery director Edward Martin Jr., the dog was cremated – and its' ashes were later spread over the grounds – because for years the couple failed to pay basic upkeep fees. His plot was later resold.
Cemetery policy requires patrons to pay either a one-time or recurring fee for basic maintenance around each grave. Martin says without those fees, the cemetery would go out of business. He says the cemetery could have exhumed the dog as early as 2004, but refrained until December of 2006.
He produced documents confirming that numerous certified letters were sent to the couple's residence, informing them they were late on payments.
Mr. Tsun says he and his wife moved from Long Island to New Jersey in 2001, and informed the cemetery of their new address. Martin says there's no record of that exchange.
According to Hartsdale policy, a plot can be exhumed and resold – that patrons essentially forfeit their space by neglecting the payments. So the Tsun's dog was dug up, and cremated.
Martini says he offered to have the dog's name cremated on a memorial wall on the grounds, normally a $500 cost. Mr. Tsun declined the offer, calling it a slap in the face after exhuming his dog.
“Why would we not pay the fee? That's just crazy.”
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3 years ago
I have read most of the reader's comments to this story and the few people who think that Hartsdale acted improperly should really think again. I am a plot-holder at Hartsdale who has purchased Perpetual Care and I have a personal interest in seeing that the cemetery where my beloved pet is buried continues to exist. Without the proper funding, a cemetery can not adequately perform basic maintenance like grass cutting, weed removal and tree trimming. This could ultimately lead to a cemetery's failure. Is that fair to the people who have paid?
Harstdale's contract seems very fair to me. Here is what they have to say about General Maintenance on their website -> www.petcem.com/generalmaintenance.html#gm01
While it is sad when a plot is forfeited, such action is both necessary to protect the people who have paid for general maintenance. Also, it is perfectly legal for pet cemeteries operating in NY to take this action (see section 750q) -> www.dos.state.ny.us/cmty/petcemetery.html
For those unfamiliar with Hartsdale, ZooToo ran an article about this beautiful and historic pet cemetery back in January 2009 -> www.zootoo.com/petnews/petcemeterytopstravelguideslis-1135
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