Pet owners who paid several hundreds of pounds to have their beloved furry friends cremated and buried were “heartbroken” to learn that the Animals' Cemetery has now become so overgrown that the headstones can no longer be seen.
When a pet dies in Jersey, owners can have them cremated and buried at the First Tower premises by the JSPCA for a fee plus a small annual cost for maintenance of the grounds.
The move is particularly popular amongst those without a garden, or those who want to ensure that they can regularly visit their former friends – whether dog, cat, rabbit or otherwise – even if they decide to move house.
Opting for a pet grave comes at a cost, however - roughly 25% higher than the same service in Guernsey. A 2017 JSPCA cremation fee list showed that ashes and a headstone plot cost between £220 (gerbils, hamsters, mice small snakes, amphibians, etc) and £595 (dogs weighing 50-90kg). Owners must then pay an additional annual fee of £5 to cover the Animal Cemetery's upkeep. Cremation services were described as one of the charity's biggest income streams in their accounts, although a figure for the annual income provided by the endeavour was not given.
Pictured: The Animal Cemetery is located in First Tower, St. Helier.
But some were left wondering why they paid the price for that special final resting place, after it emerged that the grounds had gone many months without preening.
A photo of the JSPCA-owned cemetery site posted on social media showed that the neat rows of headstones and crosses, and surrounding pathways, have now been almost completely submerged by grass and weeds.
The photo prompted outcry from dozens of pet owners who slammed the cemetery’s overgrown state as “disgraceful”, “sad” and “heartbreaking”.
“You wouldn’t let a human graveyard get like this?” one protested.
Another added: “It’s an insult to everyone who has animals buried there.”
Pictured: The area had become so overgrown with grass and weeds that many headstones can now barely be seen.
Others raised safety concerns, fearing that visitors could trip up without the guidance of a clear path.
“So sad I have my boy up there. Please could someone in the States get this sorted so we have somewhere that is a place to remember our fur family?” another commenter interjected.
Some speculated over whether the lack of care was linked with the charity’s financial situation.
Contacted by Express, a JSPCA spokesperson explained that the issue arose because that the charity’s dedicated maintenance worker was on holiday.
Despite this leading to cemetery overgrowth in the meantime, they said that the charity did not wish to recruit someone else to cover the holidaying worker’s gardening duties.
Pictured: JSPCA have said that their maintenance worker will tend to the cemetery - pictured here in aerial view - when he is back from holiday.
“There have been a lot of demands recently, and he has taken a well earned holiday, as this has been cancelled once already. We don't like anyone but him doing it, as he is so understanding and respectful,” the spokesperson said.
“We appreciate it is overdue for a cut, but with the wet and delayed spring, and then suddenly everything all over the Island has grown. He will be back in two weeks time and the cemetery will be attended to upon his return.”
But that pledge to act soon may have already been too late for one islander, who says she was so disappointed by the state the cemetery got into under the JSPCA’s watch that she no longer intends to pay the £5 annual fee to the charity for the upkeep of her pet’s grave and its surroundings, provided in addition to the initial cremation and headstone plot costs. Instead, she says she’d rather look after it herself.
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