Remains of over 500 animals being excavated from Oakville pet cemetery

Click to play video: 'Excavation underway at Oakville pet cemetery'
Excavation underway at Oakville pet cemetery
WATCH ABOVE: Over the span of nearly 40 years, more than 500 animals were buried in a plot of land that sits on property currently occupied by the Oakville and Milton Humane Society. It’s now preparing to move, and working to ensure none of the animals buried there are left behind. Shallima Maharaj reports – Sep 26, 2023

A group of forensic science students from the University of Toronto have begun the process of excavating the remains of 500 animals buried at an Oakville, Ont., pet cemetery.

The stretch of land is located on the current site of the Oakville & Milton Humane Society. With the non-profit in need of more space, the search is on for a new facility.

Rather than leave the remains behind, the Humane Society has teamed up with the University of Toronto’s anthropology department to have them excavated.

Jeff Vallentin, the organization’s executive director, tells Global News there is no way for them to ensure the site would be protected after a relocation.

“There is no law that guarantees the protection of these remains,” said Vallentin.

The cemetery first opened in 1953. The final burial plot was assigned in 1991. In its almost four decades, more than 500 animals were laid to rest at the site.

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Officials are now in the process of tracking down pet owners and their descendants.

“To this point, we’ve really only been able to reach one in five. Maybe even less than that,” explained Vallentin. “And some of that has to do with time passing.”

The hope is that by generating awareness of the project, more families will come forward.

Families have the option of having the remains returned to them or relocated to the new Humane Society’s new site.

“We felt there was a responsibility for us to make sure we’re caring for the remains, with all the dignity that is deserved.”

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