Dogs & Laws

Loved to Death: Healthy Dog Euthanized & Buried With Deceased Owner

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Despite attempts to spare her life, a healthy dog was euthanized so that she could be buried with her deceased owner to fulfill a last dying wish.


Emma, a healthy, happy Shih Tzu mix ended up in the Chesterfield County Animal Shelter in Virginia after her owner passed away. Shelter staff cared for Emma for two weeks following her owner’s death. It was during that time they learned that the woman’s last dying wish was to be buried with her beloved dog.

The problem? Emma was happy and healthy. To be buried with her deceased owner, the dog would have to be euthanized.

Heartbroken, shelter staff spoke with the executor of the dead woman’s estate on multiple occasions, begging him to spare Emma’s life.

“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 Chesterfield Animal Services told WWBT. “Ultimately, they came back in on March 22nd and redeemed the dog.”

Emma was taken to a local veterinarian where she was euthanized. Her body was then cremated and placed in an urn to be buried along with her deceased owner, in accordance with her will.

In the state, Virginia Cemetery code 54.1-2310 makes it illegal for remains or cremains of a pet to be buried in the same casket, grave plot, or tomb as a person. However that law does not apply to private- or family-owned cemeteries. Lawmakers are currently considering legislation that would make the practice illegal across all cemeteries in the state.

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