Outrage: Healthy Dog Reportedly Euthanized To Be Buried With Dead Owner At Her Request

It’s against the law in Virginia for animal remains to be interred with a human's, adding a legal element to the sad story of Shih Tzu–mix Emma.

May 22, 2019

Photo by: Shih Tzu [Wikimedia Commons]

Shih Tzu [Wikimedia Commons]

By: Mike McPadden

RICHMOND, VA — A deceased pet owner’s final wish has sparked anger and debate in Virginia, as her healthy Shih Tzu–mix named Emma was reportedly euthanized to be buried in the same cemetery plot as the dead woman.

In addition to the ethical firestorm, Larry Spiaggi, president of the Virginia Funeral Director’s Association, told the press that laying Emma to rest with her owner violates state law. He said, “It’s not legal to put a dog’s cremated remains — or any animal — in a casket and bury them.”

Some exceptions to the law exist in the case of private or family burial grounds. The story of Emma, though, has reportedly stirred talk in the state legislation to close any such loopholes.

According to NBC affiliate WWBT, Emma was taken to Chesterfield Animal Services, a local shelter on March 8, shortly after her owner died. Two weeks later, an executor of the dead woman’s estate allegedly came back to pick up Emma and said that she would be put down to be laid to rest with her owner.

Carrie Jones, manager of Chesterfield Animal Services, said she and the other employees were “heartbroken” and tried to change the executor’s mind.

She said, “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. Ultimately, they came back in on March 22nd and redeemed the dog.”

Reportedly, Emma was euthanized by a local veterinarian. The doctor has not been identified. The dog’s remains were said to have been cremated and placed in an urn to be interred in her owner’s burial plot.

Many veterinarians have spoken up to say they would never euthanize a healthy animal for this purpose.

As Dr. Kenny Lucas of the Shady Grove Animal Clinic told WWBT, “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 it ethically, and we’ve taken an oath to do. Also it’s something we take home too. It weighs on us as professionals.”

Read more: WBBT, New York Post

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