Staff at an animal shelter have been left horrified after a healthy dog was brought in to be euthanised so she could be laid to rest with her late owner.
On March 8, staff at the Chesterfield Animal Shelter in Virginia were told it was the dying wish of the owner that Emma the shih tzu be put to sleep.
The cruel practice is illegal in most cases in the state and the shelter staff refused.
The heartbroken staff told CNN News they had several discussions with executor of the the dead woman’s estate, pleading with him to find the dog a new home until Emma had passed humanely.
"It's a dog we could easily find a home for," Carrie Jones, manager of Chesterfield Animal Services, told CNN.
The discussions were ignored and on March 22 the small dog was collected from the shelter and taken to a vet where Emma was euthanised and her remains cremated.
Her ashes were then placed in an urn and returned to her deceased owner’s estate.
Outraged Facebook users labelled the owner “selfish” for taking her pet’s life prematurely.
“True love would have been arranging for a good home for her to live out her years,” one woman wrote.
“Absolutely awful!” another woman said. “The dog was healthy! She deserved to live a full, happy, healthy life.”
Dr. Kenny Lucas with the Shady Grove Animal Clinic told CNN that euthanising animals is an emotionally draining part of the job for animal carers.
"It's a very emotional situation and beyond everything we talk about, we need to do ethically, and we've taken an oath to do," he told CNN.
"It's something we take home too. It weighs on us as professionals."
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