Healthy Dog Euthanized In Virginia In Order To Be Buried With Owner

Personnel at the animal shelter tried to get the executor of the woman's estate to sign Emma over to the shelter so she could be adopted, but they declined.

By Ethan Harfenist
Shih Tzu

For Emma, a Shih Tzu mix in Richmond, Va., it truly was a dog’s life — right until the end.

The healthy pup was recently euthanized and buried with her previous owner in accordance with instructions in the deceased woman’s will, according to NBC affiliate WWBT.

Emma was placed at the Chesterfield Animal Shelter on March 8 — the same day the woman was found dead — and picked up two weeks later, Chesterfield County Police Department Public Information Coordinator Elizabeth Caroon told Oxygen.com in an email on Wednesday.

During that time, employees at the shelter attempted to convince the executor of the woman’s estate to not go through with the plan.

“Shelter staff offered to have the executor sign the dog over to the shelter so the dog could be adopted out,” Caroon said. “The executor declined and took the dog.”

Emma was ultimately euthanized at a local vet’s office and then cremated, WWBT reports. The pup’s ashes were then put in an urn and handed over to the estate’s representative.

Caroon said it was not known when exactly Emma was put down.

Per Virginia law, dogs are viewed as personal property, therefore, it isn’t illegal to put down an otherwise healthy animal — however, it is illegal to bury human and animal remains in the same cemetery plot. Still there are exceptions for private or family-owned cemeteries.

"It’s not legal to put a dog’s cremated remains — or any animal — in a casket and bury them,” according to Larry Spiaggi, president of the Virginia Funeral Director’s Association and owner of Morrissett Funeral Home, told WWBT.

However, vets may not perform such a procedure over ethical concerns.

“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 of the Shady Grove Animal clinic told WWBT. “Also, it’s something we take home too. It weighs on us as professionals.”

The outlet reports that a state legislator in Virginia is currently considering drafting a bill to close loopholes in regards to burying human and animal remains together.

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