WEST BOYLSTON, MASS. (WHDH) - 7 Investigates reveals an emotional cemetery controversy in one local community. And the video you’ll see on just one station reveals why. Hank Phillippi Ryan has the story.
Our cameras caught a scene you should not be seeing: dogs off-leash and running loose in the town cemetery in West Boylston.
Signs say “Leash, curb and clean up after your dog.” But we found dogs walking free on cemetery paths and around gravestones.
“This is disrespectful and rude,” Tracy Rinker said.
Tracy comes to visit the gravesite of her son Lucas.
He was an Eagle Scout who died in March. He was only 19.
She says the dogs running loose disturb her precious time with him.
“My heart’s broken,” Tracy said.
Tracy took pictures and videos during her visits of dogs running free, some leaving their waste behind on the grass.
“What really hit home for me was my first Mother’s Day. I went there, and I sat in dog pee and I stepped in dog poop and my heart just sank. It’s bad enough being a grieving mother, then to have that happen,” Tracy said.
Nicole says she has seen it too when she goes to the cemetery to meditate at her brother’s grave.
“Flowers that people plant on the graves for loved ones, I’ve seen dogs just go right up to it and pee on it. I’ve seen pee go onto the actual stones,” Nicole said.
Nicole and Tracy are so upset they’re supporting an online petition calling for “no dogs on the cemetery grounds” at all.
But others who mourn at the cemetery told us they welcome the dogs as long as they are leashed and don’t leave a mess.
“I just wish people would obey the rules, you know, so it doesn’t hurt anybody else. It’s not a dog park, it’s a cemetery,” Diane said.
We told West Boylston officials about the wandering dogs we caught on camera and asked the town why it’s not enforcing its own rules. Officials told us they’ve never had complaints until recently.
But Nicole and Tracy say the roaming dogs make it difficult to find the healing they seek in this special place.
“I really just want to go to his grave and I want to grieve,” Tracy said.
After we started asking questions, officials told us they’ll have their animal control officer patrol the cemetery and enforce the rules.
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