Blackpool pensioner ordered to exhume dead pet pooch he buried in allotment

Allotment owner John Johnson-Moran faces possible eviction after it was discovered he had buried his pet dog Max on his Lawson Road plot. John on the bench positioned over Max's grave with his letter from the council asking him to exhume the remains.  PIC BY ROB LOCK 10-2-2017
Allotment owner John Johnson-Moran faces possible eviction after it was discovered he had buried his pet dog Max on his Lawson Road plot. John on the bench positioned over Max's grave with his letter from the council asking him to exhume the remains. PIC BY ROB LOCK 10-2-2017
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A pet owner has been ordered to remove his dog after burying the animal on his Blackpool allotment.

John Johnson received a letter from the council following complaints from other plot-holders at Lawson’s Road Allotments in Marton.

Max

Max

He said he buried his Border Collie Max there because he wanted to feel close to his companion of eight years who had to be put to sleep when his heart failed.

But town hall chiefs say it is unacceptable to bury an animal among the allotments because of the potential to contaminate crops being grown on the land.

Mr Johnson, 69, of Elm Road, Blackpool, said: “My dog had been with me for eight years after I rescued him from Elswick.

“I used to walk with him through Stanley Park to my allotment and then Max would watch me as I worked.

My daughter Michelle has special needs and she often comes to the allotment with me, and she is also very upset about losing Max.

“But he was about 13 years old and when he started to become poorly I took him to the PDSA and they said his heart was gone, and it would be best to let him go.

“It was very upsetting to lose him but I thought I would bury him at my allotment.”

The retired builder dug a hole two-and-a-half feet deep to bury Max in and put paving flags on top so foxes could not get to the remains.

He said: “I’ve put him in the middle of fruit trees and there is a remembrance bench on top.

“I thought it would be nice to sit there and think of him.

“My daughter Michelle has special needs and she often comes to the allotment with me, and she is also very upset about losing Max.”

But council chiefs said people were not allowed to bury animal remains in a public area. They have given Mr Johnson until Friday to comply with the order to dig up Max’s remains.

Coun Maria Kirkland, who is responsible for green spaces and allotments, said: “While we sympathise and are sorry for Mr Johnson’s loss, Blackpool Council is the owner of the land and under no circumstances allows animal remains to be buried in a public space.

“The terms of tenants’ agreements and the lease managed by Blackpool Federation of Allotment Associations clearly states that allotments must not be used for any other purpose than the growing of vegetables, flowers and (subject to other provisions) fruit.

“Burial of an animal on a plot could prove hazardous with potential cross contamination in a growing produce environment. This is unacceptable.

“Mr Johnson has been advised that he may be able to bury the remains on his own property or should contact a vet for further advice.”

But Mr Johnson said he had put his house up for sale so did not want to bury Max there.

He added: “I’m grieving for my dog and getting all this aggro as well.”

A letter to Mr Johnson from the council says ‘plot holders have expressed concern at the presence of the remains’ and adds the action is a ‘breach of your tenancy agreement’.

He has been warned further action may be taken if he does not comply with the council’s orders.