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Woman In Fight With Pet Cemetery Over Plot

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Uploaded on Feb 20, 2008

A Lenexa, Kan., woman said she paid for a plot to bury her dog but six months later, there is no headstone and the owner of the pet cemetery wants to move her dog.

Debbie Wagner is passionate about her pets, KMBC's Bev Chapman reported.

"Everybody loved him, and he was just a great dog," Wagner said.

When Wagner's cocker spaniel, Hershey, was diagnosed with a liver illness six years ago, his treatment was not cheap.

"I've spent close to $60,000 in six years on all my dogs," Wagner said.

Over the summer, when Hershey's health grew worse, Wagner said she took him to choose his final resting place at a pet cemetery. Wagner said her dog picked a plot that apparently belonged to someone else, although the sales representative assured her about it.

"'Well, I think these are already sold. But the guy who bought them got transferred and he wants to sell them,'" Wagner recalled.

Wagner signed the paperwork and paid $1,300 for three plots. She bought a casket and a headstone and arranged for a small graveside ceremony.

One week later, Hershey died. A month after that, the pet cemetery called Wagner.

"The owner called and said, 'We're going to have to move your dog.' I was floored," Wagner said.

"After Miss Wagner's dog was already buried, he told us he didn't want to sell it after all," said Nancy Piper of Rolling Acres.

Piper said in 29 years and more than 4,500 pets, this has never happened. Piper said she tried to contact the owner of theland on the hill where Hershey is now buried, but has not heard anything back.

"We've offered to negotiate with him -- whatever he wants within reason. He will not return our phone calls," Piper said.

"I said, 'You can't move my dog. I've got a contract.' She says, 'I'm the owner, I can do what I want,'" Wagner said.

"We reserve the right, and have the right to correct errors. This was an error. It was an error made in good faith. But it was an error," Piper said.

Piper said she will not place Hershey's headstone until the matter is resolved.

What if the man who owns the dog's final resting place refuses to give it up?

"Then we will move Hershey," Piper said.

"She's not going to mess with my dog. I'm not going to let her," Wagner said.

The Missouri Attorney General's Office said it has no complaints or jurisdiction over pet cemeteries. The only oversight from the government involves pet crematoriums.

Chapman reported that operators or most pet cemeteries belong to a professional organization with a code of ethics. But it is voluntary. In the meantime, Wagner said she has hired a lawyer.

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