Emma, a healthy Shih Tzu mix, has been euthanized and cremated, fulfilling the will of a Virginia woman who wanted to have her dog buried with her.
On March 8, Emma was taken to Chesterfield County Animal Shelter in Virginia following her death. Over the course of the dog's two-week stay, the shelter tried to appeal to the executor of the woman's estate against euthanasia.
"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 the Chesterfield County Animal Shelter, said, per CNN. "But ultimately, they came back in on March 22 and redeemed the dog back." Emma was taken to a local vet where she was cremated with her ashes placed in an urn, and given to a representative of the woman's estate.
In Virginia, licensed veterinarians, certified euthanasia technicians, animal control officers, and human investigators can perform euthanasia. Since pets are considered personal property by state law, there's nothing illegal about putting a person's dog or cat down, even if they are healthy. However, any of these professionals can choose to object to the practice if the act seems morally wrong.
"Whenever we're faced with a euthanasia situation, it's a very emotional situation," Dr. Kenny Lucas Shady with Grove Animal Clinic said, per 10TV WBNS. "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. It weighs on us as professionals."
In the United States, cemeteries are dealt with on a state-by-state basis. Virginia passed a law in 2014 allowing owners to be buried with their pets as long as it is in a clearly marked section. The animal cannot be put in the same "grave, crypt, or niche as the remains of a human."