A much-loved pet cemetery in Moray has been forced to close after more than a quarter of a century because of new inspection fees.
Stephen Findlay has looked after the popular cemetery in Cullen as a volunteer for 25 years.
But new EU regulations have forced the burial ground to close.
The 81-year-old was informed by the Government’s Animal and Plant Health Agency that due to new EU regulations introduced last year, he faces annual bills of several hundred pounds.
The organisation say that the inspections are necessary to ‘ensure animals are buried properly’.
Mr Findlay says he can’t afford to pay the annual fees.
“I didn’t know what to say, I didn’t know what to do,” he says.
Mr Findlay, who has buried dogs, cats, budgies, seals, dolphins, foxes and even a shark in the pet cemetery, says the news is particularly heartbreaking as his three pet dogs are also buried there.
“I’ve got three dogs in here – I call them the three muskateers.”
Rory Mackay, who has a pet buried in the cemetery, says that Mr Findlay’s efforts have been appreciated by pet owners in the area.
“It’s just been an amazing service to the community that Stephen has done for us,” he says.
“It’s nice to know that when you lose your pet, it is still somewhere close by and in such a beautiful place.
“It’s a nice place to give your pet a send off. Obviously it’s very sad, but nice just to know that there’s that connection nearby as well.”
Locals have been campaigning on the issue and some pet owners have offered to help with the costs.
Mr Findlay hopes that things might change and he will be able to help grieving pet owners again in the area.
“Hopefully, if it changes, I’ll get back to work again.”