Healthy dog euthanized to fulfill deceased owner’s will

You probably already have an idea of how you’d like to be buried and what, if anything, you’d like to be buried with. A favorite outfit, some special memento, a photo of your family, these are all common items. But what about your beloved pet?

A recent case in Virginia is causing many people to scratch their heads after a pet owner left instructions for her dog, Emma, to be laid to rest with her.

At the time of her owner’s death, Emma was a healthy Shih Tzu mix.

On March 8, Emma arrived at the Chesterfield Animal Shelter. During a two-week period, personnel at the shelter attempted to convince the executor of the deceased woman’s estate to reconsider her wishes.

Emma was a healthy dog.

“We did suggest they could sign the dog over on numerous occasions, because it’s a dog we could easily find a home for and re-home,” Carrie Jones, manager of Chesterfield Animal Services, told WWBT.

But the shelter’s attempts to give Emma a new life failed. The Shih Tzu mix was claimed on March 22 and taken to a vet to be euthanized.

After two weeks, Emma was taken to a vet’s office and euthanized.

According to WBBT, Emma’s remains were cremated and her ashes were placed in an urn and returned to a representative of the estate.

The practice is highly controversial, and in most cases is illegal.

“It’s not legal to put a dog’s cremated remains – or any animal – in a casket and bury them,” Larry Spiaggi, president of the Virginia Funeral Director’s Association and owner of Morrissett Funeral home, said.

However, Virginia Cemetery code 54.1-2310 states that there are some exceptions for private and family owned cemeteries. The code states that it is illegal to bury animal and human remains in the same plot in a commercial cemetery.

In addition to the legality of the practice, those who are asked to comply with a pet owner’s request have an ethical issue with it.

“Whenever we’re faced with a euthanasia situation, it’s a very emotional situation – and beyond everything we talk about – that we need to do ethically, and we’ve taken an oath to do,” Dr. Kenny Lucas with Shady Grove Animal Clinic said. “Also it’s something we take home too. It weighs on us as professionals.”

One Virginia lawmaker is considering legislation that could put an end to this cruel practice.

Would you want your pet to be euthanized so they could be buried with you?

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