Saturday, May 6, 2017

Open Letter to ALL Horse, Goat Owners and Equine Vets in the Aiken County Area Part 1


A neighbor's old horse died and was buried; but there was a major problem with the burial.

I had a traumatic experience with an injured goat recently and my regular vet would not come out to help.

Sound strange?  Two stories that intertwined came to a head on May 2, 2017.

Second hand information from my neighbor: 

On Thursday evening, April 20th, my neighbor, Debbie, had to have her 37 year old horse, Trendy, put down at 6:30 pm. It was his time so she had her vet, Dr. A., euthanize her dear companion of over 30 years.
Trendy  1980-2017

Debbie told me the doctor suggested several names of people for her to call to bury her horse. He tried more than once to have her make the call herself. She was too upset to make the call. She chose a name she recognized and again asked him to call that person for her. He made a call to have the horse buried. It was to someone other than the person Debbie asked to have bury her horse.

She had to get someone to bring a tarp over to help cover her dead horse. Debbie was told the man with the heavy equipment would come the next morning to bury her horse. 

Debbie asked me to come over Friday and stay with her while her horse was buried. While I was there, she asked the man who came with the heavy equipment, a backhoe with a small bucket, to dig a small hole in the center of the grave so she could plant a tree there. The guy said he had never heard of anyone doing that, but sure, he could do it.

Sunday afternoon April 23, Debbie saw me in the yard and stopped. She was upset.

She told me that her dogs were sniffing around the grave on Saturday when let out in her pasture for a short while. They persisted when let out again on Sunday. 

She finally went over and was shocked. She could actually see her horse in the small hole left for the tree. Her magnificent animal had been buried in a shallow grave only a few feet deep! The following picture shows the grave after Debbie threw some shovels full of dirt in the hole so she did not have to see her dead horse. Her text that came along with this photo was "I did take a picture. Just under was Trendy" 

Shallow Grave

I told her to stop planning to throw more dirt on top of a shallow grave. She should call the guy who dug the grave and have him fix it. She didn't know his name so I recommended she call Dr. A. to get the name and number and have the problem fixed. She was so worked up over seeing her dead horse that I said not to worry. I'd take care of it for her. 

I called Dr. A. whose phone message says to text him for a faster response. I sent the following text to him at 2:42 pm:

"Pls call Linda Vola ASAP. Deb O'Connor's horse is visible. Was only buried a few feet down.
Need number of someone with backhoe to get here Now to rebury the horse
Need your help please"

Dr. A.'s Response shortly after that:

"Just called the heavy equipment guy who did the job. 
He is in Charleston. He's leaving now. He will be there around 6 pm to correct the issue ASAP."

My immediate responses:

"He came with only a small bucket digger 

He better not charge her anything additional. I'm sorry to be so curt but this is very upsetting"

"Thank you for your help"

Dr. A. called me a short while later and apologized for what happened. He told me that the equipment with that bucket was capable of digging down 15 feet. The only issue he could think of was that maybe there was a problem with the burial location. Maybe the hole couldn't be dug deep enough right there. 

I explained that the man helped Debbie pick the spot. (I was there at the time.) Also, Debbie was in the house the whole time so a knock on the door could have solved that issue. 

Dr A remarked that he'd gotten a chance to look at the situation. The guy who did the job initially was in Charleston. The man's son was in Aiken, so the son was coming instead of having to wait for the father to come back. 

I repeatedly thanked him for taking care of it and told him what a traumatizing experience this was for both of us. 

As far as I knew, things were good when I hung up from the call.

More second hand information from my neighbor:

On Monday April 24th Debbie received her bill in the mail from Dr. A. for euthanizing her horse. Included was a single burial charge.  

She then received this text from Dr. A. on Monday:

"So the heavy equipment guys are going to charge me twice for the burial. I will need to charge you for two burials.  I sent an invoice last Friday but would like to add an additional $350 to it for the second burial. 

I was told he left an 2ft hole in center of burial site early Friday morning for tree planting the next day. He reported that it appeared dogs had helped excavate the remains back up by Sunday afternoon and no tree was planted.
Thus I'm being charged again... Plus it was after hours and Sunday and so on...

I really don't like that you had to go through this. I am sorry."

Debbie then called Dr. A. and told him she didn't think it right that she should be charged twice, as the service wasn't performed correctly the first time.

Dr. A. complained about how long it took her to contact him after the burial, 48 hours. The doctor made some comments to her about business being tight but that he was going to do the right thing and pay the heavy equipment man for 2 burials. Dr. A. told Debbie he felt she should also do the right thing and pay him for the 2 burials. When asked, the doctor refused to give Debbie the man's name and number to call directly as the man was the doctor's subcontractor. 

He also told her that if she didn't pay him the full amount, then he could no longer be her vet and care for her other equines.

Debbie was so upset she didn't know what to do. She had always spoken so highly of Dr. A. She didn't think it right that he was putting it in her lap to fix an issue between himself and his subcontractor for a sloppy job.

After her conversation with Dr. A, she called me and asked for both my husband Charlie's and my advice as to what she should do. She didn't want to pay twice and wanted to let others know about what happened to her. 

I personally thought being asked to pay twice was not right and a bad business decision on Dr. A.'s part. To save face, if I were that contractor or Dr. A. I wouldn't have charged the client for the initial bury. A gesture of goodwill after such an awful experience would have been what I would have expected from my past business and professional experience. 

I suggested that since she and I were both upset that maybe Charlie could call and speak with Dr. A. Charlie is always calm in a storm and could speak to him as a business man regarding the choice Dr. A. was making and talk over why it was not a good choice he was making for his business.  I asked her to hold off until I could speak with my husband.

Charlie agreed to speak with Dr. A. but asked Debbie to think about it overnight and let him know the next day if she wanted him to call Dr. A. He even took us out to dinner at IHOP that night since it had been such a bad day. We didn't talk about it anymore that night.

Debbie and I spoke the following day and she said she wanted Charlie to call Dr. A. 
Charlie called and left a conciliatory message for Dr. A. on April 26th. He basically suggested that a discussion between the two of them might calm the waters of a brewing storm. Charlie never heard back from Dr. A.

Equine owners, in my opinion, your vet should take care of you when your horse dies with their assistance. They should call someone for you to bury your horse properly, if that is your wish. That's just common decency and caring for their client.  

Lastly, it is my opinion that the person who buries your animal should send you a bill, just like the pet crematorium sends you a bill for your cat or dog who is put down by your small animal vet.

I only hope and pray none of you reading this has to go through Debbie's experience with a bad burial.

Please go to PART 2 for the rest of the story.

Story by Linda 
Half of the loving partnership at Forever Young Farm and animal lover with 18 animals and always counting.

Please note that the story above is fact told by me, to the best of my recollection, as I experienced it and/or I witnessed and/or was told to me. Information told to me is listed as second hand information. 


  1. It's hard realize that this actually happened to me. Trendy Star who died with dignity and grace, and should have been buried with dignity and grace.

  2. Such a sad affair that should not have occurred. When our dear old gelding Brandy passed away over 10 years ago, age 28, we were able to contact a nearby neighbor/rancher who came over with his backhoe and very professionally dug a deep and ample grave. This kind rancher did not want to accept any money from us for the service, only saying "$50.00 is more than enough to cover the time and fuel". When Flicka died 2 years ago (age 33)I did not have the luxury of having her buried on the new property as there are too many wells in the area. My veterinarian, a sweet and lovely young woman, offered a list of several providers who will take away the body, but recommended one in particular because she found him to be compassionate and caring to bereaved horse owners. The vet hospital offered to pay him and bill me later, or I could pay him myself, which I chose to do. Such kindness and graciousness is never forgotten by clients! I'm sad that Deborah had to endure such unpleasantness after the loss of her beautiful horse, who should have been buried with more consideration and care. I would hope the veterinarian involved would have their clients' best interest at heart, and also that the tractor service would make this right and not charge for the "re-do". My condolences to Deborah in her loss of Trendy Star.