Delaware SPCA Asks Owners to Move Buried Pets From Grounds - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Delaware SPCA Asks Owners to Move Buried Pets From Grounds

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A man takes a break in the hole he is digging to find his dog he buried there about 30 years ago. (Photo: WBOC) A man takes a break in the hole he is digging to find his dog he buried there about 30 years ago. (Photo: WBOC)
Captain, the country's first state police patrol dog, is buried at the pet cemetery. (Photo: WBOC) Captain, the country's first state police patrol dog, is buried at the pet cemetery. (Photo: WBOC)
A family digs up the headstone of their dog. (Photo: WBOC) A family digs up the headstone of their dog. (Photo: WBOC)
This family has spent over two weeks trying to locate all of their dogs. This particular dig is to locate their dog that is not located under its headstone. (Photo: WBOC) This family has spent over two weeks trying to locate all of their dogs. This particular dig is to locate their dog that is not located under its headstone. (Photo: WBOC)

STANTON, Del. (AP/WBOC) - The Delaware Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals is closing its Stanton facility and is asking anyone with deceased pets buried on the grounds to relocate their animal's remains. 

The pet cemetery sits behind the SPCA's Stanton Christiana Road location. It houses bagged remains of over 1,000 animals. It's Delaware's largest pet cemetery with animals like the country's first state police patrol dog. 

Pet owners are being told they have until the end of the month to remove their pets' headstones, along with relocating what's left of their animals' bodies. The SPCA, which is experiencing financial difficulties, hopes to attract commercial development to the property, but the more than 1,000 animals buried there decreases its value.

SPCA representatives told WBOC Friday that their board of directors has barred them from commenting on the story to any media. Advocates for keeping the center open are petitioning the board through an online petition. It has over 1,000 signatures.

Charles Cobb lives in Bethany Beach, and he traveled to Newark to look at the Delaware SPCA one last time. He used to work for the SPCA when he was in high school.

"You buy a plot, it's your plot," he said. "It's like if you go to a burial spot for a person, you can't just move them anywhere. It's just not right." 

Dawn Mitchell runs Doggone Happy Animal Rescue in Kent County, and she says this entire situation is a nightmare. 

"Even if it's been 10, 20 years, if they thought enough to go through this then, it's still going to impact them greatly," she said. "When you bury them it's to rest in peace, not to have to go through this."

She says there is a pressing need for more SPCA and shelter resources in Sussex County, but moving the Newark SPCA now just seems like the wrong idea. She says there are many facilities upstate, but they are certainly all full so there is a need for the Newark center. 

WBOC visited the pet cemetery Friday and came across all kinds of families. One couple has been digging for their dogs for over two weeks and is having trouble locating the bodies.

Another man, 69 years old, said this is the last thing he thought he would be doing when he buried his dog there almost 30 years ago.

SPCA volunteers told WBOC the dogs were buried in heavy duty plastic bags, so most of the remains are there intact. 

The land is currently being marketed for $9.8 million. Pet cemeteries aren't subject to state or federal laws.

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