Meet Bela, a healthy German shepherd in Indiana. He would seem ideal for an adoption except for one thing. His recently deceased owner, Connie Lay, specified in her will that Bela, her beloved companion, should be euthanized upon her death and his ashes buried with her. Despite an outcry, she may succeed in reaching from the grave to end Bela’s life. In fairness to Lay, her love for the dog seems to have motivated her unusual demand and she allowed for one escape clause for Bela.
The problem (which we have previously discussed) is that pets are legally treated as chattel or property. Owners have the right to do what they wish with their property. In this case, Lay seems to want a modern variation of a Viking funeral with her dead dog at her feet. But wait, it gets worse. Lay was not so heartless as it may seem. She said that the dog could be spared if he was sent to Best Friends Animal Society in Utah, a no-kill sanctuary. However, her attorney said that there is no money for such a transfer.
Her lawyer Doug Denmore also says that Bela is aggressive and that Ms Lay kept a record of his aggressive behavior. Indeed, Bela would not allow people to come near Lay’s body after her death. Yet, there are people who are willing to adopt Bela and the shelter says that they have not witnessed aggressive behavior. In the meantime, Denmore is trying to raise money to send Bela to Utah and the euthanasia is temporarily on hold.
It is an interesting case since owners do have some greater limitations in their treatment of dogs than say a couch or a table. They cannot be cruel to a dog or wantonly kill a dog. Yet, they can put the dog down.