Digging up the dead
From today's Palm Beach Post-
After years of neglect, the long-standing pet cemetery on Purdy Lane is officially going under. Condos will be going up in the next year, and the owner would prefer they not be built on top of anyone's beloved pet.Call me old-fashioned or naive, but who buys property without seeing it or knowing what it was being used for?
"They can just come and dig, absolutely," says property owner Imtiaz Ahmed.
Ahmed didn't run the cemetery — he says he didn't even know it was there when he bought the 5-acre lot in suburban West Palm Beach in 2002.
But one walk through the weed-infested grounds reveals dozens of headstones.Unfortunately I don't see any way for those with pets there to stop the building. I don't think a cemetery should ever be built over unless remains are removed and relocated but Mr. Ahmed is within his rights.
"I will miss your warm body next to mine when I sleep," says one trampled plaque.
"I love you as you loved me," says another.
Vernoll "Betty" Burdick's love for animals was vast. She moved to Purdy Lane when it was just a dirt trail, working as a groomer and running a pet boarding house. Her husband ran the only pet ambulance service at the time.
According to a plaque on the grounds, people started burying their pets there in 1950.
"Florida's the worst state in the union," said Steve Drown, executive director of the International Association of Pet Cemeteries and Crematories. "We have calls about cemeteries there a lot. If the property isn't dedicated to a pet cemetery forever, then they have every right to build."
Some states require pet cemetery owners to get a permanent designation for the land, much as they do for human cemeteries to guarantee perpetual care. Not Florida, Drown said.
Florida requires that animals be buried a minimum of 2 feet underground, said Tim O'Connor, spokesman for the Palm Beach County Health Department. It's up to counties to regulate where the cemeteries are and how they operate, he said.
The county's building department has no rules forbidding construction on top of a pet cemetery.
I don't see Florida changing its' laws either to protect pet owners. Developers will almost always win over the average citizen in this state.
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