Elliot Pet Services, the animal crematorium accused of improperly dumping dozens of dead pets, says the situation is not what you think.
"Right now, she's devastated. She feels like she will have trouble staying in business," said the business' attorney, Kevin Angel.
The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) is in the process of removing scores of dead dogs and cats buried on the Morgan County property.
Elliot Pet Services' owner, Cameo Farr, agreed to remove the pets. But Farr's attorney says it's not because she did anything wrong. Instead, he said Farr is the target of a neighborly dispute and did not mistreat customers' pets.
"They TDEC were getting calls from a concerned neighbor who we think was trying to unfairly impact Mrs. Farr's business," Angel said. "If people paid to have their pet cremated, that's what she did and they should have received ashes if that's what they paid for."
Angel said even though the state issued two notices of violations to Farr this year, she did not commit any crimes.
According to TDEC documents, Elliot Pet Services was issued a permit to operate in 2007.
The business had at least two complaints in 2011 documented by TDEC, but inspections didn't find any violations.
A complaint in September 2013 led to the first notice of violation for open dumping of deceased animals. The complaint came from a neighbor who said there were animals dumped in a mass grave and a strong odor coming from the property. TDEC investigated and observed a pile of dead animals and documented with photographs. When the Tennessee Division of Waste Management went to visit the property, Farr told them the animals had been incinerated.
When TDEC went back to investigate the incinerator in October 2013, Farr rescheduled six times before the investigator was able to inspect. Farr was never able to provide a log the law requires to operate the crematorium. She was issued another notice of violation.
Also in October, the Department of Agriculture issued Farr a warning citation for having dead dogs and cats on her property that weren't buried properly as well as "ash with bones in it" that wasn't properly disposed of.
In November, Farr agreed to remove the buried animals from her property.
Angel said customers who had private cremations should not be concerned. He said the business disposed of animals in several ways including private or individual cremations and public cremations for multiple animals from veterinarian's offices. Others he said chose for their animal to be buried.
"Just as some humans prefer for them to be buried and that's what she would do. Some vets or other clinics paid her to dispose of the animals through burial or cremation and that's what she did," Angel said.
Angel said burying animals is not illegal, but admits that Farr did bury them in graves that were too shallow.
"They had to remind her the guidelines of how deep any grave had to be and she has since followed that," he said.
TDEC said the animals they have found in the excavation have been buried a year or more. The agency said they have no records of where the animals came from and therefore cannot identify them.
District Attorney Russell Johnson said they are waiting on TDEC to determine where the investigation goes from here.
"The ball is in TDEC's court," said Johnson.
The DA's office have been present as the animals were removed.
No charges have been filed.