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Last week, an individual shared images of deceased animals at the My Pet Memorial Park via social media and directed negative comments toward Anita’s Stevens Swan Humane Society (A-SSHS). A-SSHS would like to take the opportunity to address the claims made regarding the My Pet Memorial Park.

The claims and insinuations made of disrespectful treatment of animals are unequivocally false and A-SSHS believes were staged and fabricated to sully the name of our organization for personal gain. This individual took the photos shared on social media around April of 2020. They are not current photos. A-SSHS never abandoned deceased animals on the property of My Pet Memorial Park.

Followed procedures and timely disposition of all remains:

In anticipation of a completed sale of the property encompassing My Pet Memorial Cemetery to this individual, all deceased animals were buried on the property or removed from the premises for cremation. All burials and cremations were completed by the end of April 2020. The location photographed was utilized as an overflow space to preserve animals when needed. A-SSHS’s mission and priorities are, and always will be, to care for and treat all animals humanely and with the utmost respect. The care for the animals on this property met our high standards. All procedures and protocols were followed, and all burials and cremations were conducted in a timely manner.

Cremation and burial standards:

The loss of an animal or pet is tragic and heartbreaking. Just as is the case with people, the particulars behind the burial and cremation process for pets and animals is an unpleasant reality. Much like funeral service providers, our staff provides these services to spare families this heavy burden during a difficult time. Under the circumstances, we felt it necessary to share this information to ensure the community that A-SSHS has, and always will, continue to follow all customary procedures and protocols and ensure burials and cremations are conducted in a proper and timely manner. The respectful treatment of our beloved pets and animals has, and always will be, our top priority.

While not a pleasant thought, freezing deceased animals is customary practice for preservation within the cremation and burial industry for animals and humans. Storage remains in a bag or box inside a freezer is also standard practice.

Cremations and burials conducted by A-SSHS are normally completed within a month. However, some factors can extend this timeline, including; if no owner has been identified, there is a higher than the usual number of animals to be laid to rest, private cremation is requested, required crematory maintenance, crematory operator staffing levels, and snow and ground freezing preventing burials.

The images:

We feel it is important to address the specific images shared. The animal photographed with paperwork dated 2012 is not the animal linked to the paperwork shown. The paperwork in that image is for a burial of a pet that was conducted ten years ago. This burial occurred with the owners present and according to her wishes and desires. 

The headstone photographed was intentionally placed in the storage facility to prevent it from being damaged during winter and was later put back in the cemetery. The individual who took this picture was aware of this but posted the photograph to cast A-SSHS in a negative light.

Further, all pets preserved in the freezer were in sealed bags or boxes at the time of preservation. Paperwork related to cemetery operations was stored on this property. The sealed bags and boxes were opened to stage these photos, and old paperwork, unrelated to the animals being stored, was used to insinuate these animals had been abandoned for years.

The vast majority of animals preserved in the freezers on the property were unclaimed or unidentified animals scheduled for mass cremation. Stray and unidentified animals often find their way to the shelter. We have made it our duty to ensure these animals receive a respectful disposition.

A couple of animals were given to A-SSHS by an owner during the winter months of 2019/2020 for burial. They were buried in the early spring of 2020, following the owner's wishes as soon as the ground permitted. The individual who posted these pictures was not present the day staff removed or buried the animals.

My Pet Memorial Park property

Additional comments from this individual were made regarding our legal actions about the property. Due to an ongoing legal matter, we cannot disclose all the facts of this case. We can share that the operation of a cemetery requires a New York State license. After two years, this individual has not fulfilled this requirement, among others outlined in the agreement. This individual has resided at the property while A-SSHS continues to pay expenses, utilities, and maintain the property. This untenable, and unsustainable situation required a legal remedy.

Our thoughts

We sincerely apologize to those who saw these images of pets and animals in this state. We provide this service to spare the community this burden. These false accusations truly dishearten us. We are saddened that someone would fabricate this story to discredit the love and care given to animals by A-SSHS for their personal gain. Our staff and Board are deeply dedicated to the respectful and humane treatment of all animals. Any suggestion that A-SSHS does not operate its shelter and programs ethically and with kindness to all animals is entirely baseless and false.

Many of you have seen firsthand how much our staff, Board, and volunteers care for the animals who come to our shelter. You’ve witnessed the days, nights, weekends, and holidays they sacrifice to care for these animals and the burden they carry when someone surrenders their pet or abused, or abandoned animals are taken into our care.

The well-being of animals, in all stages of their journey, is what our team has dedicated their lives to. We hope your support does not waiver in the wake of this individual’s desperate attempts. The animals do not deserve to be caught in the crossfire of this individual’s selfish actions.

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