Chesterfield, Va. (CBS Local) — A healthy dog was recently euthanized in Virginia after its late owner left specific instructions in her will that the dog was to be put down and laid to rest with her.
The executor of the dead woman’s estate arrived at an animal shelter in Chesterfield County on March 8 and asked to euthanize a healthy Shih Tzu mix named Emma. “Heartbroken” shelter personnel at Chesterfield County Animal Services had several discussions with the executor, trying to talk him out of it.
“We did suggest to them that 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, the manager of Chesterfield Animal Services, told WWBT. “But ultimately, they came back in on March 22nd and redeemed the dog back.”
Emma was transported to a local veterinarian and euthanized. Her remains were taken to a pet cremation center in Richmond, where her ashes were put in an urn and returned to the “authorized representative of the estate.”
Virginia forbids pets to be buried with humans in commercial cemeteries, but there are exceptions for private and family owned cemeteries.
“I am licensed by the state of Virginia, so I have a license on the line with the Health Professionals Board,” said Larry Spiaggi, president of the Virginia Funeral Director’s Association and owner of Morrissett Funeral & Cremation Service. “So I cannot do it.”
Virginia law considers dogs and cats as personal property and while it isn’t illegal to euthanize a healthy pet, ethical considerations may prevent vets from performing the procedure.
“Whenever we’re faced with an euthanasia, it’s a very emotional situation and beyond everything that we talk about that we need to do ethically and we’ve taken an oath to do, it’s something we take home too. It weighs on us as professionals,” said Dr. Kenny Lucas with the Shady Grove Animal Clinic.