Healthy dog euthanized for burial with owner, sparking debate
The Shih Tzu mix named Emma had her ashes placed in an urn and given to the estate’s representative.
RICHMOND, Va. — Veterinarians and funeral homes in Virginia are rejecting the idea that pets should be buried with their owners after a recent case in which a healthy dog was euthanized so it could lie with her owner.
WWBT-TV in Richmond reports workers at one animal shelter tried to talk the executor of the estate out of the plan. They failed and the Shih Tzu mix named Emma was euthanized and cremated. The dog’s ashes were placed in an urn and given to the estate’s representative.
“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,” said Carrie Jones, manager of Chesterfield Animal Services.
Dr. Kenny Lucas says while it’s an emotional situation, he said his clinic won’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, it’s something we take home too,” Lucas said. “It weighs on us as professionals.”
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At his funeral home, Larry Spiaggi, president of the Virginia Funeral Directors Association, has Peace, a chocolate Labrador retriever and certified therapy dog that he keeps at the funeral home to help clients through their grief. As for euthanizing a healthy dog and burying it with its owner, he said he finds the practice abhorrent.
“I am licensed by the state of Virginia, so I have a license on the line with the Health Professionals Board,” Spiaggi said. “So I cannot do it.”
Virginia law generally forbids burying pets with humans.
A state lawmaker is considering legislation to address the problem.