As a dog owner, I know what it means to love my pet. This story, which is sparking debate across the world has shook me to my very core. I can not believe it even happened.
Is there such a thing as loving your pet too much?
Mainly what I'm asking here is whether it's ok to kill a healthy pet and bury it with their deceased owner? That is exactly what has happened in Virginia and it clearly hits a nerve with a lot of people. I personally am horrified that this happened.
Emma, a shih tzu mix, was put down despite the best efforts of local animal shelter workers who spent two weeks trying to talk the executor of the woman's estate out of the plan. However Emma's late owner left explicit instructions the dog be put down - and laid to rest - with her.
"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," Carrie Jones, manager of Chesterfield Animal Services told CNN affiliate WWBT.
On March 22, the executor of the owner's estate came to the shelter and picked Emma up. The shelter again offered to have the dog signed over and be adopted out, but the executor declined.
Emma was then taken to a local veterinarian, euthanized and taken to a pet cremation center in Richmond, Virginia, WWBT reported. Her ashes were placed in an urn and returned to the representative of the woman's estate.
Was this legal?
US laws vary from state to state, but some do allow pets to be buried with their human owners. That being said, in Virginia, with few exceptions, burying animal remains with human remains in the same cemetery plot is against the law.
Apparently, if you were heartless enough to want to this, your biggest challenge would be in finding a veterinarian who would actually put down a healthy pet. While it's not a legal issue -- pets are considered personal property -- it's certainly a moral one.
Dr. Kenny Lucas with the Shady Grove Animal Clinic told WWBT he wouldn't do it.
"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 told WWBT. "Also it's something we take home too. It weighs on us as professionals."
In Virginia, the National Memorial Park Cemetery has a pet graveyard, Noah's Ark Pet Cemetary, next to its human burial sites.