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Healthy Dog Euthanized, Buried With Owner

Shelter workers tried to save Shih Tzu
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted May 23, 2019 5:04 AM CDT
Updated May 26, 2019 10:31 AM CDT
Emma, a Shih Tzu like this one, spent two weeks in the animal shelter after her owner's death in March.   (Getty Images)

(Newser) – Evidence of people having beloved pets killed and buried with them has been found in ancient civilizations—and also in present-day Virginia. Despite the objections of workers at an animal shelter in Chesterfield, the executor of a woman's estate had Emma, her healthy Shih Tzu mix, euthanized, cremated, and buried with her, the Guardian reports. Workers say they spent two weeks trying to talk the executor out of going through with the plan. "We did suggest they could sign the dog over on numerous occasions, because it’s a dog we could easily find a home" for, Carrie Jones, manager of Chesterfield Animal Services, tells WBBT. Emma was eventually put down by a local veterinarian.

It's illegal to bury pets and humans in the same grave in commercial cemeteries in Virginia, though exceptions are made for private, family-owned cemeteries. Pets are considered personal property under state law so the woman's request was not illegal, though many veterinarians would find it reprehensible, CNN reports. Dr. Kenny Lucas at the Shady Grove Animal Clinic says he would never 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 tells WWBT. "Also it's something we take home too. It weighs on us as professionals." (This German shepherd was saved after its owner's similar request was publicized.)

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