Pet cemetery legal action lives on

The effort to stop the exhumation of pets buried in Colma is anything but dead despite a judicial setback last week.

Those trying to keep roughly 1,000 animals buried where they are in Pet’s Rest Cemetery are weighing further legal action following San Mateo County Judge Robert Foiles’ July 5 denial of a temporary restraining order stopping the removal of any animal remains.

In a lawsuit filed last week, Shirley Tufo, who has seven pets buried in Pet’s Rest, and others accused owner Philip C’de Baca of business and professional code violations, fraud, breach of contract and “intentional infliction of emotional distress,” said Christine Garcia, an animal rights attorney representing Tufo in the lawsuit. They believe C’de Baca should have disclosed that the burials would be on leased land.

C’de Baca has leased two-thirds of its land from Cypress Abbey Land Company for 20 years and has maintained that he believed Cypress Abbey would eventually sell himthe land. The company has refused to sell, however, forcing the cemetery to move off the land as the lease expires.

The cemetery mailed out notices to pet owners in late May saying they could rebury the pets on land owned by Pet’s Rest or cremate them.

“To date, [C’de Baca] has received hundreds of written consents to the exhumation and reburial or cremation of pet remains,” according to C’de Baca’s legal declaration in opposition to the temporary restraining order.

The lease ends Aug. 19, and all remains need to be removed by then, said C’de Baca’s attorney, Darin Leviloff.

Cathryn Hrudicka, who started the Web site savepetsrest.org after learning her dog, Poquito, buried at Pet’s Rest since 1988, was slated to be moved, said she and others are also trying to approach Thomas Atwood, president of Cypress Abbey, with a proposal to buy the land.

Judge Foiles denied the temporary restraining order “without prejudice,” said Leviloff, meaning that the plaintiffs can file again.

Garcia said they’d move for a preliminary injunction and another temporary restraining order.

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