ROSS TOWNSHIP, OH (FOX19) - Owners who buried their pets years ago at the Garden of Pines Pet Cemetery in Ross Township are horrified by the current conditions. Some headstones are currently turned over or covered in mud.
Debbie Southard and her sister Marla Cupp both have their dogs buried at Garden of Pines Pet Cemetery.
"This is where my little baby's buried right here," said Southard as she walked to her dog's grave site.
Her dog Cleo passed away in 1983.
"I trusted them with my pet," Southard said.
During a recent visit with her sister, they were blown away by the overgrown weeds and fallen trees covering the gravestones.
"I just couldn't believe it and we walked for forever to find the dogs. I brought a piece of metal and was tapping in the ground," said Cupp.
Her dog Pudgy passed away in 1988.
They said it took them nearly two hours to find their beloved pets.
"We knew Cleo was up here but there was no grave. There was that much mud and I was tapping and she started digging and sure enough we found her," said Cupp.
"I actually thought I was going to have a heart attack because of the stress," said Southard.
She said when she buried Cleo 34 years ago she paid more than $800 to lay her to rest in a beautiful peaceful spot and never expected it would transition into what she called a "war zone."
"When we bought our package they offered up a lifetime maintenance so we paid for that and that's what we expected," said Southard.
Since that time the ownership has changed.
The Butler County Zoning Office said the land is now slated as agricultural. They said Ross Township does not have a property maintenance code.
Southard said she has been sick looking at the overgrown lots.
"If I could I would take my own hands and dig her up and take her home because she, it hurts me to know, a lot of people might say it's just a dog but she was my baby. She's still my baby and it really hurts me," she said.
The owner of the cemetery said it has been tough keeping up the property this past year, but he's hoping to restore to what it once was.
The owner of the cemetery, Tim Vogel said that he has been caring for the property since 1991. He is planning a few spring clean up days and he welcomes the community to join in and help.
If you would like to get involved call 513-863-4440.