Healthy Dog Euthanized So She Could Be Buried With Her Owner

One woman's dying wish was to have her beloved Shih Tzu mix, named Emma, be put to sleep and buried with her, this way she could spend eternity with her best friend.

Emma was eventually taken from a temporary animal shelter, euthanized and eventually cremated so she could share an urn with her master.

This tearful saga in Virginia of a dog loved to death didn't come without the animal shelter and the estate executor pulling strings against each other, according to NBC12 in Richmond.

After the woman died, Emma was taken to the Chesterfield Animal Shelter. During Emma's two-week stay there, shelter employees pleaded to keep the healthy Shih Tzu, even saying they would find a new home and owner for her. But the tussle with her owner's estate executor was to no avail, and Emma met her fateful end.

Carrie Jones, who manages the Chesterfield shelter, said her staff suggested they take over custody of Emma after she arrived on March 8 this year.

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

Emma was taken from the shelter and into a local veterinarian, where she took her final breaths before getting euthanized. The pup was taken to a pet cremation center in Richmond, and then her remains were reunited with her owner's in an urn, which matched her dying owner's wishes in a will.

It seems two Virginia laws may have been skirted, or perhaps broken, in the process. The first is that a healthy pet supposedly cannot be euthanized, and the other is that a pet's remains cannot be placed in the same burial container with those as a human — on commercial property.

First there was the euthanasia, which one doctor said his office takes seriously, and even personally.

“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,” said Dr. Kenny Lucas of the Shady Grove Animal Clinic. “Also it's something we take home, too. It weighs on us as professionals.”

Then there's the Virginia law that prohibits the burial of animals with humans in commercial cemeteries, but private ones are acceptable, according to the law.

Larry Spiaggi is president of the Virginia Funeral Directors Association, and owner of Morrissett Funeral Home, who is a pet-friendly business owner who said he wouldn't have allowed this.

“It's not legal to put a dog's remains — or any animal — in a casket and bury them,” said Spiaggi, whose pup Peace works with him at his funeral home to help clients deal with their grief. “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.”