A healthy dog was put down because it was her owner’s final wish to be buried alongside her.
The Shih Tzu, called Emma, was euthanised and cremated after her late owner left explicit instructions in her will that her pet must be put down after her death.
Despite workers at the shelter trying desperately to prevent the woman’s last wish from coming true, Emma was put down just two weeks later.
The brown and white dog was taken to Chesterfield Animal Shelter in Richmond, Virginia, in early March when her owner died, NBC12 reports.
During her two week stay at the shelter, workers had several discussions with the executor of the dead woman’s estate and tried to talk them out of putting the dog down solely so it could be buried with her owner.
Ultimately, their pleas fell on deaf ears and the woman’s family eventually collected the dog on March 22, before taking Emma to a vet where she was then put down.
Staff at the shelter were reportedly heartbroken by the turn of events, particularly because Emma was a healthy dog who could have easily been re-homed.
Carrie Jones, manager of Chesterfield Animal Services, 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.
The Shih Tzu was taken to a local vet’s office where she was put down, and her remains were taken to a Richmond pet cremation centre. Her ashes were then put in an urn and returned to the authorised representative of the estate, in accordance with the dead woman’s will.
While Virginia law states it is illegal to bury animal remains with human remains in commercial cemeteries, there are some exceptions for private and family owned cemeteries.
Larry Spiaggi, president of the Virginia Funeral Director’s Association and owner of Morrissett Funeral home, finds the practice of putting down an animal to be buried with its master as abhorrent.
He told NBC12:
It’s not legal to put a dog’s cremated remains – or any animal – in a casket and bury them. I am licensed by the state of Virginia, so I have a license on the line with the Health Professionals Board. So I can NOT do it.
Rest in peace, Emma.
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A Broadcast Journalism Masters graduate who went on to achieve an NCTJ level 3 Diploma in Journalism, Lucy has done stints at ITV, BBC Inside Out and Key 103. While working as a journalist for UNILAD, Lucy has reported on breaking news stories while also writing features about mental health, cervical screening awareness, and Little Mix (who she is unapologetically obsessed with).