Pet cemetery in Howard Co. is in limbo Bank declines owner's request to take it over

meanwhile, carcasses thaw

February 05, 1997|By Dana Hedgpeth | Dana Hedgpeth,SUN STAFF

The troubled Rosa Bonheur pet cemetery in Elkridge has been left adrift -- with no one taking care of the property and dead pets thawing in a freezer without electric power.

In the wake of an unsuccessful effort by the cemetery's owner to give the property back to a bank -- which the bank doesn't accept -- it remains unclear who now is in charge of the 22,000-plot site off U.S. 1 near Route 176.

The cemetery's caretaker quit Friday. And after its power was cut off by Baltimore Gas and Electric Co., the Howard County Health Department yesterday found two dogs -- a Yorkshire terrier and a white, medium-sized dog -- and a pot-bellied pig thawing in a 6-foot-by-4-foot freezer in the cemetery's "preparing room."

Howard health officials also revealed yesterday that they had found at the rear of the cemetery an unmarked grave that may contain "several animals." County Sanitarian Justina Taylor said she had dug 18 inches into the spot and found the paw of a "white dog and the hind legs of several others."

The cemetery's owner, William A. Green of Sykesville, tried last week to give the property to Commercial and Farmers Bank in Ellicott City in what he calls a "friendly foreclosure."

That is in limbo, however, because bank officials say they are not eager to take over the property's problems. "We don't know what we're doing with that property right now," said Edgar Gans, attorney for the bank.

Green, 45, said last night that he hadn't been at the cemetery in a month. "There's an awful lot of goofy people out there, and it's just becoming ridiculous running that cemetery," he said. "I can't operate it any longer. There isn't anybody who can revive that business because it's gotten such bad publicity."

Last week, a Howard Circuit Court judge ordered Green to pay about $20,000 to 16 aggrieved pet owners for grave markers never delivered and for giving pet owners ashes from the wrong cremated animals. At a December hearing, Bobbi Jo Pitcock, a former cemetery employee, said that former Gov. William Donald Schaefer's black Labrador, called Willie II, was kicked and stomped on before burial.

Howard health officials say they can't remove the dead animals in the cemetery's freezer unless there's "an overpowering odor" coming from inside the building.

Pub Date: 2/05/97

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