Pay Your Pet Cemetery Bills!
CBS 2 HD Learns Just Because Your Beloved Animal Has Been Buried, It Doesn't Mean It Will Stay Buried
Dodo's remains were dug up from Hartsdale Pet Cemetery and then cremated.
Their loved one was buried, but not for good.
Grieving pet owners at a Westchester animal cemetery found their beloved dog's grave empty.
Now a judge has sided with the cemetery. CBS 2 HD learned more on how these "grave judgments" are made all the time.
"Dodo" was a dog; a mixed breed treasure who's cemetery bills didn't get paid. The owners are Chinese immigrants who moved to New Jersey, but said they didn't get the bills for annual upkeep. It ended badly.
Pet cemetery president Edward Martin said workers literally dug up the dog.
"Yes, yes we did. Yes we cremated her and spread the ashes over the cemetery," Martin said.
It was a horrendous shock to the grieving pet owners, but a state judge said Hartsdale Pet Cemetery -- the oldest in America -- has the right to do what it did, even if the plot owners didn't intentionally fail to pay their bills.
Contacted by phone, Dodo's owner, John Tsun, told CBS 2 HD simply, "We're not happy with the decision. "This has been very difficult for my wife."
John Tait is the couple's attorney.
"They spent $10,000 on a pacemaker for this dog; they spent $2,000 to bury the dog. They got him an oak casket. So to suggest they wouldn't pay $30 had they been told, or gotten an invoice, is ridiculous," Tait said.
But it's all buried, if you will, in the original cemetery deed dating back to before World War I, the fine print in an arcane document. Hartsdale is now using more modern contracts with easier to understand language, but cemetery director Martin said he expects he'll continue to do dozens of cemetery evictions every year because people do bury their pets and then abandon them.
Some people get another pet and lose interest in the pet," Martin said. "They don't have the same feelings. It's the hardest part of the job, the worst part of the job."
Since they lost the plot they bought as well as their animal's remains, Dodo's owners said they're continuing to explore their legal options. Martin counsels anyone burying a pet to buy perpetual care, if that's what you want.
Perpetual care at Hartsdale Pet Cemetery now costs $1,700. Annual upkeep fees are paid for with the interest in a custodial account.