A zoo owner fears her business will be ruined after she is accused of destroying a pet cemetery.
Alexa Reid, 52, shared how a “misunderstanding” led to her becoming the target of what she calls a hate campaign.
She revealed that attendance at the Auchingarrich Wildlife Park in Perthshire has fallen since she took over as manager last year and inherited what she says is an overgrown paddock.
But the piece of land has been used by grieving owners since 2009 to bury their beloved pets.
Since then, backlash has erupted, with stressed-out employees refusing to come to their shifts, friends and family also affected and her 12-year-old son too scared to go to school.
Some suppliers have withdrawn their stock from the gift shop and on-site events have been boycotted.
Alexa said, “It’s terrible. We are accused of tearing up headstones and desecrating graves, which is the last thing we would ever do.
“Last year we received no records of the country. We bought it as a paddock, not a pet cemetery.
“Now let’s go back to how nature intended.
“I’m not going to dig up everything and throw it away. My actions spring from a place of compassion and love for animals.”
One of those upset by the changes at the wildlife center was Debbie Marshall from Turriff, Aberdeenshire.
She shared how she got to her dog Ruby’s grave, but claimed the headstones were taken down and thrown over a fence.
She said: “I burst into tears. I thought I would never find Ruby’s grave again.”
Debbie also claimed pet owners have now been asked to pay an entrance fee to access the cemetery.
She has launched a campaign group to urge a U-turn and allow them to place shallow markers on their pets’ graves.
And Debbie insisted, “I’ve never had to do anything like that.” But it’s by no means a hate campaign.
“We won’t stop until we get what we want, but I’m willing to talk to Alexa to try to resolve the issue.”
The zoo owner now intends to move the tombstones and markers to a new memorial garden.
However, she insists that she never intended to touch the remains of the dead animals. Calling on activists to end the conflict,
Alexa said, “If you want to search for graves, I will help you.
“But we have to come together and try to find a solution to all of this.
“If this continues, it will affect our ability to care for the animals we have here.”
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