Pet cemetery condition like a 'war zone,' pet owners say

When Marla Cupp spent $500 on a burial plot for her dog 30 years ago at Garden of Pines Pet Cemetery, she never figured the sacred space would someday resemble “a war zone.”

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But when Cupp, of Hamilton, recently visited the Ross Township pet cemetery, that’s exactly what she found, she said.

Large trees had been knocked over, limbs were scattered, weeds were several feet high and mud covered some of the grave markers, Cupp said.

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“We never dreamed it would look like that,” she said, adding that it took her and her sister Debbie Southard both more than an hour to find their buried pets.

At one point, she took a metal pole and pounded on the ground until it hit the marker.

“Shocked” was her reaction.

Southard’s dog, Cleo, died in 1983. Cupp’s dog, Pudgy, died in 1988.

“When we bought, it was beautiful out there,” said Cupp. “When your pet dies, you want to have a peace of mind that everything is OK.”

The pet cemetery has been owned by Tim Vogel since 1991. He said that because of high winds and heavy rain, he has been unable to keep up with maintenance at the 10-acre property.

“It’s been a rough year,” said Vogel. “It’s always a battle.”

Vogel estimated “several thousand” pets are buried at the cemetery, which is zoned agricultural, according to the Butler County Zoning Office.

Vogel said he is seeking volunteers to help him clean up some of the debris.

On Thursday, volunteer Thomas Kelly was at the cemetery helping to clear debris.

“We may have this cleared before spring comes,” he said. “The more people you have in a group (volunteering), the more you can get done at one time.”

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