Lost cemetery proves costly for DVM in building new practice - DVM
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Lost cemetery proves costly for DVM in building new practice


So, pulling from his experience as the chair of the legislative committee for ISVMA, Dullard contacted his state representative, who introduced a law to curtail some of the powers of the Human Skeletal Remains Act. He was able to work out a deal with the state to re-inter the remains using local volunteers, but he still had to pay to have two archaeologists on site at all times.

"There's always latitude in the way laws are done," says Dullard. "One of the good things about this whole deal is, it's an example of how good government will work when presented with a sensitive situation. We found a happy medium to do it. It's actually been an excellent learning experience for a number of universities."

A local, retired history teacher even came by with a group of students to give a lesson on the era in which the cemetery was used. The LaSalle County Historical Society has been helping, too, noting what artifacts are found in the graves before they are re-interred with the remains. But, sadly, there is no way to identify any of the remains, Dullard says.

The community has been supportive of the project, too, and Dullard says he believes the way in which he approached the problem helped divert a potential public relations nightmare.

"I had to figure out a way that was going to be a sensitive and professional method of taking care of the problem," he says. "I just dealt with this problem head-on as the story unfolded and things happened. I had probably about 98 percent support in the area."

He still has to go back to the state to seek an extension on the project, since the re-interment process has taken so long. Dullard says he has already asked the state for the extension and doesn't anticipate any more hurdles.

The next step will be to see whether he recovers any of his costs. He may be able to go back to the seller.

"The way the whole thing was represented to me is not the way it is," Dullard says. "But one thing I learned—there is no guarantee. Use your lawyer. Someone may have seen a red flag for me. It comes down to that fact that you still have to rely on people's honesty about a lot of things."

Today's laws discourage people from being totally honest because of the cost involved, he says, adding that a friend of his found 23 graves in the middle of one of his fields. They way things were in the 1800s, people didn't travel far to bury their dead. As Illinois becomes more developed, many of these smaller, undocumented cemeteries are being discovered, he says.

"This is actually something that's repeating itself day in and day out in all the communities," he says.

But Dullard says the hurdle has turned into a positive experience, and his plans to build a third practice are still moving forward. The practice's foundation has been poured, and he hopes to open within the next nine months. The new practice will serve as a centralized hospital for his other two practices, located about seven and 15 miles away. Those practices will focus on wellness care once the new clinic opens.

Dullard says he hopes his experience, although difficult and costly, will help other veterinary practice owners to keep moving forward with their practices despite setbacks.

"We just have to be more diligent about how we get stuff done," he says.


Source: DVM360 MAGAZINE,
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