What happens to your companion animals when you die?
Some of us have no plans. Others of us have family members or friends who will take in our beloved companions, and provide them a comfortable home. Still others of us have made arrangements with a rescue group or sanctuary to care for our furry friends.
And then some of us stipulate the animal is to be euthanized.
That was what Connie Lay, an Indiana woman, decided for her 9-year-old German Shepherd, Bela. Her will specified that Bela was to be placed at Best Friends Animal Society in Utah, or euthanized, and his ashes put with hers. After Ms. Lay’s death, the decision to euthanize was made after consultation with a veterinarian, and because there were not funds available to get Bela to Best Friends, even if they did accept the dog.
Before you label the late Ms. Lay as a cruel person, as many media sources have, you must know that Ms. Lay had documentation of Bela being aggressive, and was concerned the approximately 100 pound dog could harm someone, particularly a child. When Ms. Lay died at home, others could not enter the home for fear Bela would attack.
Of course, the folks at PAWS of Dearborn County Humane Center in Lawrenceburg, Indiana, where Bela is currently housed, are all up at arms about the will. They claim to see no signs of aggression in Bela, and are most certainly the ones responsible for leaking the story to the media.
But those so-called do-gooders also must know that, under Indiana law, Bela is property, and the terms of the will cannot be changed because they want it to be.
For now, Best Friends has agreed to review Bela’s records and decide if they could take him in. If not, Bela will be euthanized.
Forgive me if I don’t jump on the bandwagon of those decrying injustice to Bela.
First of all, animals are euthanized every day. Bela puts a face on what we typically choose to not think about.
Second, Ms. Lay made what she felt were reasonable plans for a dog that she knew to be aggressive. The irony is, if she hadn’t made such plans, he most likely would have been euthanized anyway.
And, third, this happens far more often than most people realize. The fact that it was released to the media right before Christmas makes it a compelling story, I know. But as someone who once had a dog who was aggressive, though he seemed docile much of the time, I can empathize with Ms. Lay’s decision.
So here’s my take on this: If you don’t like what’s happening, instead of shouting about injustice to Bela, get off your ass and work to change the laws pertaining to animal welfare in your state. Animals should not be treated in the courts as the equivalent of a recliner.
Then do your part to ensure there are more places available for people like Connie to place a companion animal with special needs.
Now THAT would make a compelling Christmas story.