Friday, December 19, 2014

For The Love Of A Dog

There's an interesting story going on in Indiana this week - one that has no easy answer. It's a story about a woman and her dog.

Connie Lay lived with her German Shepherd, Bela, for 15 years. Ms. Lay died recently and in her will she stipulated that Bela, still a very healthy dog, was to be put down and cremated and buried with her owner. When the news was made public there was a large public outcry about animal cruelty.

Bela was scheduled to be put down but because of the outcry he was instead taken to the P.A.W.S. shelter and is being cared for until a decision is made. Several people have inquired about adopting Bela but as of this time, according to Indiana law, he is the legal property of Connie Lay's estate and her request in her will, according to the law and her attorney, is legal.

According to Indiana law animals are property and as long as they are not being treated cruelly, owners may do with them as they see fit. The question comes in whether or not putting down a healthy dog so it can be buried with its owner amounts to animal cruelty. In my opinion it does.

I understand Ms. Lay's love for her dog. I almost understand her desire to have him buried next to her (although she's not going to know about it one way or the other.) But I do not understand her desire to have her dog killed just to satisfy her wishes. That one is beyond me.

The shelter caring for Bela has issued a public statement. They are not taking sides.


You may have seen the news story regarding Bela, the German Shepherd dog being housed at PAWS Humane Center. We would like to take a moment to clarify the circumstances of Bela’s stay at our Center.

Legally, Bela is considered the property of the estate of the deceased person and not PAWS Humane Center. He is only being housed and cared for at our Center while legal proceedings with the estate are being finalized.

PAWS has no legal right or control over his outcome. Bela will not be euthanized at our facility, either by PAWS staff or the Dearborn County Animal Control Officers. If a euthanization decision is reached by the estate, then it will be the responsibility of the estate to make those arrangements elsewhere.

This matter is still being decided by the estate's legal representation. Any information in regard to donating to him when and if they decide to transport Bela will be released by the lawyer’s office, and local media will be notified immediately.

We appreciate your care and concern for Bela and all of the animals in Dearborn County.

I commend them for taking care of Bela during this difficult decision making time. Eventually it will be up to the court to decide what is and isn't animal cruelty.

Ms. Lay's attorney has also stated that Bela can be transferred to "Best Friends" shelter in Utah. There was no information as to whether that was also stipulated in the will but it most likely was in case her original request was problematic. The attorney has reportedly been paying the bills for Bela in the meantime. I guess that proves not all attorneys are cold hearted vampires....

My solution would be for the dog to be adopted (he's 9 years old) and be allowed to live out the rest of his life with another loving master then, when he finally passes way, Ms. Lay's wishes could be met. He could be cremated and buried next to her. But that's just me. I hope the right decision is made. Bela doesn't deserve to die just because his master did.

Best Friends shelter also released a statement concerning Bela.

“Our animals are our family and this situation is a great example of the plan people should make for their pets who survive them. Whenever possible, the best option is for an adoptive home to have been identified, with informed consent, prior to the owners passing.”

Pretty sound advice if you ask me.

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