Tippy was buried beneath a stand of trees, a cool little glade in a corner of the Reimers' homestead in Stafford, Va.
Or was she?
For the record, Stafford County General District Court Judge Peyton Farmer says that Tippy, black and furry and weighing 10 pounds, was properly buried after her untimely demise at the bumper of a speeding car outside Doug's Grocery in early May. Farmer ruled on June 3 that Lynda Reimers, the dog's owner, did properly bury her pet, even though Reimers' neighbors, the Lynches, claimed she did not.
Some weeks earlier, armed with Polaroid pictures of a rotting, maggot-infested body they identified as Tippy and the advice of the county dog warden and the county health inspector, the Lynches had gone to the county magistrate and sworn out a warrant for Lynda Reimers' arrest. It was the latest episode in what both sides have described as a four-year history of interfamily feuding.
Reimers' alleged offense: violating section 18.2-323 of the Code of Virginia; Leaving Disabled or Dead Animal in Road, or Allowing Dead Animal to Remain Unburied.
"I do believe the animal was placed" in the glade on the Reimers' property adjacent to the picnic area on the Lynches property, "to disrupt and harass my family" wrote Jim Lynch in his petition for the arrest warrant.
"They were just trying to get back at me for having Mrs. Lynch arrested for brandishing a firearm at my daughter and me a few years ago," Lynda Reimers says. Marion Lynch appeared in court on that charge, which surfaced out of an incident in October 1980, but it was dismissed by a judge six months later, after there were no further reports of disputes.
"They said I came after them with a gun," says Marion Lynch, standing at her front door, hands clasped like a choirgirl. "Do I look like the type?"
The current round of feuding began on May 6, says Lynda Reimers, when Tippy, part cocker spaniel, part collie, part unknown, was found dead near where the Reimers and Lynches live near Fredericksburg.
Reimers says she and her daughter, Tammie, 18, picked up the dog. As it was late in the evening, she says, they wrapped Tippy in a jacket and laid her at the side of the house. The next day, Lynda and Tammie buried Tippy in the glade.
A week later, the Reimers received a visit, at the Lynches request, from county dog warden Tim Morgan, who advised them to dig the grave deeper. Two days later, Lynda Reimers says, she and her son Todd, 14, complied.
But, says Marion Lynch, "All they did was put a shovelful of dirt and some sticks on top of the dog . . . I called the warden again."
This time, on May 16, county dog warden Bill Tinsley answered the call, accompanied by a county health inspector. Tinsley, a retired D.C. police officer, says he found "the carcass exposed, maggots, the whole nine yards. Stunk to high heaven."
The Reimers were advised once again to cover the grave properly. However, Jan Reimers, Lynda's husband, says, "He never indicated the depth of an acceptable grave. At this point I believe we were being harassed. Not only that, but my mother had just died, and we were on the way to New York for the funeral. We said we'd take care of it when we returned in a week."
The Reimers family returned on May 22. "Quite frankly, due to the circumstances, we forgot entirely about the dog incident," says Jan Reimers, an executive with the U.S. Independent Telephone Association in Washington.
But on the very next day, Jim Lynch went to county magistrate Ann Riley-Brewer. Riley-Brewer looked at the Polaroids alleged to be Tippy and issued a warrant for Lynda Reimers' arrest.
Four days later, at 10:55 p.m., Lynda Reimers was arrested at the Garrisonville McDonald's restaurant, where she is an assistant manager.
"Can you imagine? Can you imagine? In front of all the customers, in front of all the employes? Can you imagine?" asks Lynda Reimers. "How low can people go?"
"We only did what we thought we had to," says Marion Lynch. "I'm sorry we can't be better neighbors."