Minds uneasy after pet is euthanized to be buried with owner

The Chesterfield Animal Shelter offered to have the dog signed over and be adopted out but the executor declined

The Chesterfield Animal Shelter offered to have the dog signed over and be adopted out but the executor declined

Emma was a Shih Tzu mix that Chesterfield County Animal Services described as a well-bred, pampered and much-loved pup, and was taken into animal services back on March 8.

They tried negotiating with the executor of the late owner's will to talk him into other options, but he remained steadfast in carrying out the specific instructions the woman left for her pet.

The discussions were ignored and on March 22 the small dog was collected from the shelter and taken to a vet where Emma was euthanised and her remains cremated.

Carrie Jones, the manager of Chesterfield Animal Services, told WWBT: '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. She was then sent to a pet cremation centre and her ashes were placed in an urn and returned to the representative of the estate to bury alongside the owner.

In 2014, the state of Virginia enacted a law making it legal for cemetery companies to have a section where pet remains can be buried alongside the remains of their owner. Virginia law defines a cemetery as "any land or structure used or meant to be used for the interment of human remains". This is heartless, inhumane, and pitiful!

While killing healthy pets so they can be interned with owners is sparking ethical debates on social media, the law is crystal clear, says Larry Spiaggi, president of the Virginia Funeral Directors Association.

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"Please reveal the name of the vet who followed through on this so I can make sure no one I know ever uses them", said another user.

Most vets said they would refuse to put a healthy pet down.

WWBT spoke with local veterinarian Dr. Kenny Lucas from the Shady Grove Animal Clinic in Glen Allen, VA. Lucas discussed how hard euthanasia is for all involved. "It weighs on us as professionals", said Dr. Kenny Lucas with the Shady Grove Animal Clinic.

"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", he said.

Current law defines a cemetery as "any land or structure used or meant to be used for the interment of human remains", but WWBT reports that family-owned and private cemeteries are treated as exceptions. "It's something we take home, too".

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