A woman's dying wish to have her healthy dog put down and laid to rest beside her has caused outrage in the US.
Emma, a Shih Tzu mix, was euthuanised in Virginia in March, despite the efforts of workers at an animal sanctuary who repeatedly urged the owner's relatives not to carry out the wishes.
"We did suggest they could sign the dog over on numerous occasions, because it’s a dog we could easily find a home for and re-home," Carrie Jones, manager of Chesterfield Animal Services told NBC/WWBT.
She added it was to no avail: “Ultimately, they came back in on March 22nd and redeemed the dog."
Emma was reportedly taken to a vet, put down and then taken to a pet cremation centre in Richmond, Virginia.The dog's ashes were then given to the executor of the owner's will in an urn for burial.
In Virginia, pets are considered personal property and, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association, vets are allowed to perform euthanasia in such cases.
Dr Kenny Lucas, a veterinarian at the Shady Grove animal clinic, said he would never have honoured the dead woman's request.
He said: “Whenever we’re faced with a euthanasia situation, it’s a very emotional situation – and beyond everything we talk about – that we need to do ethically, and we’ve taken an oath to do,” he told WWBT.
He added: “Also it’s something we take home too. It weighs on us as professionals.”
Virginia bans the burial of animal remains in its public cemeteries, although these rules do not apply to privately owned or family plots.