About 1,000 animals, including dogs, cats and monkeys, must be exhumed from a Bay Area pet cemetery because their burial plots are on leased land that the owner wants back.
Phillip C'de Baca, owner of Pet's Rest Cemetery in Colma, Calif., said he has contacted pet owners asking them to pick new burial spots on cemetery property that is not being affected. Free cremation also is being offered.
"All these years I was never told Poquito was buried on leased land," said Cathryn Hrudicka, who buried her tiny mixed-breed dog 18 years ago. "Now we have to open it up and bring back all the grief."
One-third of the cemetery belongs to the real estate firm Cypress Abbey Co. and has been leased informally since the 1960s, C'de Baca said.
A formal agreement struck in 1986 allowed the cemetery to use the land rent-free on the condition that the graves would be exhumed and the land returned in 20 years.
C'de Baca said he believed that he would be able to buy the land at the end of the term.
"I probably should have been more clear" to pet owners about the status of the land, C'de Baca said. "But I didn't know he was sincere about not wanting to sell."
Thomas Atwood of Cypress Abbey said he empathizes with the pet owners but needs the land for an entrance to a cemetery for humans.
A group of pet owners is trying to form a cooperative to buy the land, but Atwood said he is unwilling to sell.