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Animal shelter carries out woman's last wish for a pet cemetery | News

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Animal shelter carries out woman's last wish for a pet cemetery

(WBIR - Claiborne County) A Claiborne County animal shelter is helping build the area's first-ever pet cemetery. It will also help fulfill one woman's dying wish.

Sitting near the Claiborne Animal Shelter is 1.5 acres of land. It was bought to develop a pet cemetery. Now, a cat and a dog named Toe-Toe and Blackie are buried on the land. Their owner put in her will that she wanted them to be buried on her property.

Liza Martz, the executive director for the Claiborne Animal Shelter, heard the story, and thought it was a good opportunity. "There was a woman, I think in the late 1990s, who passed away and she left her property, seven acres and a house, and a considerable amount of money to be a pet cemetery," said Martz. "She had her dog and cat buried there and she had a headstone made with the name of the cemetery."

Martz said the shelter will honor the woman's request, naming it Arnold Tom Gibson Memorial Pet Cemetery.

But Martz said they could not build it on that woman's land. Instead, a court ruled to auction off those seven acres. That money went to the Claiborne Animal Shelter so it could buy land and develop the cemetery.

Martz said the woman's pets have been exhumed and moved, along with their headstone, to the new plot. The headstone bearing the cemetery's name was also moved.

Standing in the middle of it all is a big tree. Martz plans on putting benches under the tree to give owners a place to relax and reflect. She also said the shelter plans to put walking paths throughout the cemetery, and that it will also become Claiborne County's first dog park.

Martz said the cemetery will also help raise money for the shelter, which relies solely on community donations and volunteers.

Pet owners will also be able to buy blankets made by Southern Girls for Second Chances to help with proper burials.

Elizabeth Lawson, a volunteer for the Claiborne Animal Shelter and a member of the Southern Girls for Second Chances, explained, "We're making throws that we can wrap them in and then put them in the casket."

The Claiborne Animal Shelter hopes to open the pet cemetery in early 2015.


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