GENOA TOWNSHIP, Mich. – Many who spent hundreds of dollars to lay their pet to rest in a cemetery are finding out years later that the owner didn't actually own the land.
It's happening to thousands of people whose pets are at the Heavenly Acres Cemetery in Brighton. They're looking at hundreds, even thousands of dollars, to remove their pets' remains and that's only if they can even find the grave.
It's estimated that about 74,000 pets are buried at the cemetery.
"There are hundreds of us who are trying to get our dogs and cats out of here," Pat Mankin said.
Mankin has a pet buried at the cemetery, which closed in September. Many were sent a letter from the law firm representing the current lawn owners, informing the pet owners that they had just nine specific days with four-hour windows to remove their pets remains.
Mankin describes the letter as very threatening. The pet owners need to wave any future liability to remove the remains.
"They want us to release them of any liability but they're causing us liability to do it," Mankin said.
Wednesday was the first day to dig up remains and Mankin said one couple in particular was troubled when they couldn't find where their dog was buried.
"Leeches were on them, mosquitoes were biting them, and they could not find their dog and their dog has a headstone," Mankin said.
Other pet owners believe the Livingston County prosecutor should be looking at the previous owner, who went belly up for selling promises she couldn't keep.
"Some of the people who have pets here are deceased and they buried their pets here with the understanding that this was a forever place and clearly it's not," Mankin said.
The last day people can come retrieve their pets' remains is Sept. 7.
The former owner of the cemetery currently owns a pet cremation service. She did not return Local 4's call.
The lawer who sent the letters to pet owners is not allowed to publicly comment.