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In most states, including Indiana, a dog is considered personal property and the owner has legal rights to determine that dog’s fate. So, when Connie Lay prepared her will, she called for her dog, Bela, to be euthanized and cremated and for his ashes to be combined with hers.
She did, however, offer an alternative to euthanizing the dog. The other option was for Bela to be transported and cared for by Best Friends Animal Society in Utah. According to friends of the deceased, Bela has shown signs of aggression in the past. He was by his owner’s side when she passed away in her home and police and coroners were unable to enter the home for fear that the dog would attack.
Best Friends Animal Society said in a statement that they would prefer Bela end up in the sanctuary, but that “the decision to send him to us (or) to have him put down and cremated is out of our hands.”
The attorney handling the estate has said that due to financial strains, getting Bela from Indiana to Utah is not an option.
A veterinarian has agreed to euthanize the dog if that’s what the estate decides to do.
For now, Bela is being held at PAWS of Dearborn County, a humane shelter that has stated they will NOT euthanize the dog.
“If a euthanization decision is reached by the estate, then it will be the responsibility of the estate to make those arrangements elsewhere,” the statement read.
Several volunteers from the shelter have offered to adopt Bela, but that is not an option that aligns with Lay’s will.
However public outcry and media attention to the story have very likely saved Bela’s life. It is very unlikely that the dog will be euthanized, despite his lawful definition as a piece of property. The law states that a will cannot order an illegal act to be performed in order to carry out the will. Although euthanasia is not illegal, it can be determined to be cruel to euthanize a perfectly healthy dog, and a judge can therefor overrule Lay’s will.