Volunteers dig up, relocate pet remains from abandoned cemetery - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Volunteers dig up, relocate pet remains from abandoned cemetery

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An area woman and her team are working to move hundreds of pet remains from an abandoned pet cemetery.

The cemetery land, on Cedar Heights Drive in Cedar Falls, is being re-developed, so Kathy Taylor and her team have been working for nearly a year to at least give pet owners back their headstones. The project has grown in the last few months, and now Taylor is relocating the pet remains to a new cemetery. 

Several volunteers started working this week to uncover and sort through graves that were dug in the late 1990s.

"This is gross, but to be honest with you the mind set is, if we don't move them the chisels plow will and I think our option is better than the other," said Richard Beery, Waterloo.

Thanks to some donations the crew was able to use a backhoe and some other tools to start digging up dozens of pet graves. Volunteers removed remains from boxes, bags and caskets and placed them in pillow cases. Those pillow cases will then be added to a vault which will be buried in a new location.

"We are trying to get all of these precious little bones into one solid spot so they can be remembered and put to rest since this is going to be redeveloped," said Renee Timion, Janesville.

Volunteers used a backhoe to dig into the ground, and dug up the boxes the animals were buried in by hand. The volunteers are determined to dig up and find all of the graves.

"We will try and get them all, we will do the best we can," said Timion.

Though this task is a little odd, volunteers say they are happy they are doing something good.

"It wasn't what I expected, I'll tell you that," said Timion. "I wasn't prepared for all of the vaults that were cracked open and full of water, I wasn't prepared for seeing a lot of that kind of stuff."

The volunteers say they are honored to be part of Taylor's team and help move the remains. Crews say most animals buried at the cemetery are cats and dogs, but there is one horse and a monkey somewhere in the plot.

"When you get into some of them, and you find that most people have buried their pets with their toys and their collars and their blankets, then it makes you feel like you're doing something good," said Timion.

The plan is to have all of the remains put in a vault and be reburied in a plot at the Garden of Memories in Waterloo. The cemetery has donated two plots for the pet's vault.

Lockard Reality has owned the land the cemetery used to sit on for more than 10 years. Lockard says there is no plan on what the land will be turned into, but they have given Taylor until the end of this year to complete the pet cemetery project.

For more information on how to get involved or find your pet CLICK HERE.

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