Life

Euthanasia Postponed for Dog Named in Will

How much do you love your dog? I’m definitely a dog lover and have been from the earliest age. If I have to go out of town, I get stressed about my parents watching my dog, wondering, in the back of my mind, what would happen if he got loose.

Like most dog owners, I suppose, I think I take care of mine better than anyone else can. And I can’t even imagine wanting to give my dog to someone else.

Mathematically, I’m young enough to be able to reasonably assume that I will outlive my Collie, who’s only a year old. And I expect to have more dogs after he goes, which I hope won’t be for at least another 12-15 years.

If, on the other hand, I was somehow to depart before he did, I would certainly want him provided for and taken good care of for the rest of his life.

That’s why it’s so hard to fathom the situation surrounding a German Shepherd named Bela. This poor dog named in a woman’s will was scheduled to be put down upon its owner’s death so their ashes could be mixed together in a kind of “together forever” way.

I can partially see the symbolic sweetness of the request. But I can’t get my head around the brutality it implies: that a potentially-healthy dog might be put down just because its owner dies, rather than allowing it to find a new owner to give it a home for its remaining years.

Outrage over a story of such a situation may have given the dog in question, Bela, a German Shepherd, a second chance at life. An Indiana woman, Bela’s former owner, reportedly wrote into her will a provision for Bela: The healthy German shepherd could either be euthanized, cremated and buried along with her — or else sent to a no-kill animal sanctuary.

Common sense would dictate that a reasonable person would certainly prefer the latter option.

However, last week, word got out that Bela’s fate was somehow unclear, and that euthanasia was looking like the likely outcome. At one point, amid a social media firestorm, it was learned the dog was being held at an animal shelter, awaiting a trip to a veterinarian for possible euthanasia. The #SaveBela campaign was thus born, with people campaigning for Bela to be transferred to a no-kill sanctuary.

Legally, the woman’s lawyer says, a pet is considered “property,” which means, social media firestorm notwithstanding, it’s up to the owner to decide how to “dispose” of that property. But legal experts told Huffington Post that courts are reluctant to honor such requests because of ethical questions.

Bela, though apparently healthy, may be “unadoptable,” the woman’s attorney says, citing “some aggressive characteristics that need to be thought through.” If the dog is aggressive, it may have been more of a selfless attempt on the part of Bela’s owner to prevent the dog from being adopted into a new family where he might injure someone.

Fortunately, a representative of the sanctuary says that’s likely not to be an issue. But until the executrix of the will decides to send Bela there, it’s out of everyone else’s hands, hashtag or not.

And though Bela’s owner died nearly a full month ago, that’s where things still stand. I can’t help but wonder how Bela is dealing with all of this; the loss of his owner alone has to be traumatic…there’s no telling what he’s thinking as he waits for who knows what at his temporary home.

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Patrick is a Christian with more than 28 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.