Human graves in Pinellas pet cemetery also at risk - WFLA News Channel 8

Human graves in Pinellas pet cemetery also at risk

Posted: Updated:
Amado Delgad's headstone indicates he was buried in Green Mounds pet cemetery with his best friend Gammon. Amado Delgad's headstone indicates he was buried in Green Mounds pet cemetery with his best friend Gammon.

Pet owners aren't the only people worried about the future of Green Mounds pet cemetery in Pinellas County.

A Tarpon Springs woman claims her mother is also buried there.

71-year-old Mary Rowe died in September 2001 and according to her daughter, Candy Occhipinti, Rowe's ashes were buried with those of her beloved dog "Cookie."

"When my mother made this request it was very odd to myself and my siblings, but it was her wish and we did it," Occhipinti said. "This is where she wanted to be."

According to Occhipinti, her father made the arrangements with the cemetery's previous owners.

RELATED: Pinellas pet cemetery urges owners to move buried pets

Green Mounds' current owner, Fletcher Enterprises, says it is not aware of any human remains in the pet cemetery.

The company purchased Green Mounds in 2000. It also owned a Harley Davidson shop next door. Fletcher wanted to expand its business into an unoccupied section of the cemetery.

An email from company president Laura Fletcher also stated, "We did not allow any burials while we owned the property."

Fletcher added that the company can no longer afford to maintain the cemetery or pay taxes on the property. She expects the county to take it and sell it within a year. She is urging people to relocate their pets while they can - 6,000 pets are buried in Green Mounds.

Occhipinti says her mother is also buried there along with five family pets.

RELATED: 8 things to know before burying your pet at a cemetery

"I just think it puts a whole [different] spin on it when it's my mother there. And would I dig her up? No," she said.

Another gravestone indicates that a woman by the name of Hazel Hensel is also buried in Green Mounds.

Hensel's marker lies next to the grave of Jonni McKay's dog.

"She's buried with her animal there, her ashes. And we put flowers on her grave," McKay said.

Another headstone indicates that 89-year-old Amado Delgado was buried with his dog Gammon. "Best Buddies Together In Eternity" is carved on the grave marker. At the bottom it reads, "Mama's Mutt Free.”

According to a newspaper report from 2000, the previous owner of Green Mounds thought the cemetery was the final resting place for up to 50 people.

"This is where she wanted to be, she loved this place," Occhipinti recalled.

Occhipinti has no plans to disturb her mother's grave; however other 8 On Your Side viewers are taking action.

"We're having the dog exhumed and then we'll bring them to Foster's and then they're going to cremate the dog and then the ashes will be in a little urn now," pet owner Richard Geier said.

Geier and Dolores Davis buried their 13 year old poodle "Muffin" in Green Mounds in 1993.

They moved quickly when they heard the cemetery's future is uncertain.

"It's depressing. It's bad enough you went through the death, now you have to go through this again, it's terrible, it's terrible," lamented Geier.

Lori Pickens placed two dogs in Green Mounds, Whimpy in 1987 and Mascot in 1990.

"I just couldn't have the thought of someone coming in and unearthing the ground with them still there," Pickens said.

She is also paid for exhumation, then cremation. She plans to bring their ashes home with her.

"It's sad but it's also good that I knew about it and thank you so much for bringing it to all of our attention. I am very grateful for that so that I could put closure to it and do what would be respectful to the pets," Pickens said.

Pickens picked up the cremains of Whimpy and Mascot on Friday and sent this email;

Hi Steve,

This attachment shows my closure with Green Mounds. Again, thank you for bringing this to the public’s attention. When I picked up the cremains today, Jonathan who had done the exhuming, was there. He described to me, (only what someone who had lovingly and painstakingly done the exhuming could have), contents in the still intact caskets, after all these years! I felt very relieved to know these cremains truly are my dogs. I wish it did not have to come to this, however, I am grateful I at least knew.

Thank you again!

Lori Pickens

Copyright 2014 WFLA. All rights reserved.

  • Most Viewed Stories on

  • Sign up for WFLA News Channel 8 Email Alerts

    * denotes required fields

    Thank you for signing up! You will receive a confirmation email shortly.
Powered by WorldNow

200 South Parker Street, Tampa, FL 33606

Telephone: 813.228.8888
Fax: 813.225.2770

Can’t find something?
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Media General Communications Holdings, LLC. A Media General Company.