Dog Illegally Buried in Public Park: What Pet Parents Should Know

PetMD Editorial
Published: July 26, 2017
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Losing a beloved animal is a harrowing and heartbreaking experience for any pet parent to endure. Not only does it take an emotional toll on a person, but for many, it can carry a financial burden as well. 

That was the case for a Florida woman who, after allegedly not having the finances to cremate her deceased dog, buried the pet in a local park. Unfortunately, due to Florida law, it is illegal to bury an animal in "any place where such carcass can be devoured by beast or bird." 

According to local news affiliate Fox13, a dog named "Jessie Girl" was buried at Lake Wailes Park on July 24, with a gravesite that included "fresh mulch, solar lights and confetti sprinkled with care." 

Upon its discovery, officials posted on the City of Lake Wales Facebook page, "We need to find the owner of this dog buried at Lake Wailes Park. While we are sorry for your loss..this was not appropriate. This will have to be removed within 48 hours or we will remove it."

The story caught the attention of a local family who wanted to do their part to help ensure Jessie Girl's family could have a proper final resting place for their dog and avoid any legal trouble with the city. reports that the family, who wished to stay anonymous, helped remove the remains of the 5-year-old Chihuahua for transportation to Veterinary Healthcare Associates for cremation. After her cremation, the family will have their choice of box they'd like to have Jessie Girl put in. 

Jessie Girl's owner, Ashley Duey, told The Ledger that she didn't think burying the dog at the public park would cause a problem when she put the dog’s body in a metal box. She also noted that she had not been able to afford cremation services for Jessie Girl, who had been hit by a car. (According to Florida law, the dog could have been buried on private property, so long as the pet was "at least 2 feet below the surface of the ground.") 

The Animal Humane Society projects that for end-of-life services for dogs, cremation can cost anywhere from $25 to $90, while urns can cost upward of $150. 

Jennifer Nanek, the assistant to the city manager of Lake Wales, urged that no matter how pet parents wish to say goodbye to their pet, they should not bury them in a public space. "Pets can only be buried on private property with permission of the owner or in a designated cemetery," Nanek told petMD. "They cannot be buried in public parks." 

Image via Shutterstock 

Read more: Coping With Your Pet's Death: An Important Guide