DEARBORN COUNTY, IN (FOX19) - In the eyes of the law, pets are possessions and when you die, you have the right to decide where they go but what if that means bringing those pets to the grave with you?
That is what one Aurora, Ind. woman decided to do. Connie Lay's attorney tells us she had a few possible plans laid out for her dog Bela at her death. One of them being that the male German Shepard be put down and his ashes put with Lay's. It's a fate Bela was set to meet Tuesday morning despite objections from volunteers who want to give her a good home.
But after the Tri-State's outcry to #SaveBela, a second option in Connie Lay's will is being considered, which means, at least for now, Bela will not be euthanized.
According to Connie Lay's attorney Doug Denmore, the alternate option is to send Bela to Best Friends Animal Society in Utah, the largest no-kill animal sanctuary in the country. But he says that option is not financially feasible. Still, until the estate decides what to do, Bela is safe.
Best Friends Animal Society issued this statement regarding Bela Thursday:
We want to save Bela's life and bring him to our sanctuary, but the decision to send him to us or have him put down and cremated is out of our hands. The decision needs to be made by the person designated in Ms. Ley's will and we are hopeful that she will agree. Please be patient as we educate her about Best Friends life-saving mission and demonstrate that Bela will be in good hands.
Please show your support for Bela to come to Best Friends by adding your positive message of hope for Bela to have a safe and happy holiday by using the #Hashtag #SaveBela.
This situation is really a great reminder that our animals are our family, and families should plan 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.
Bela is currently being boarded at PAWS of Dearborn County after he was found with his owner Connie Lay at her home when she passed away. According to volunteers, he is a smart, well trained, sweet dog who deserves a home. But according to the attorney handling Lay's estate, that was not his owner's wishes.
It is an option legal analyst Mike Allen says isn't entirely uncommon or illegal.
"Animals are considered property and that's what the point of a will is to dispose of property upon one's death. You have that conflicting though with rules that say you have to treat animals humanely,” said Allen.
Volunteers say several have offered to adopt Bela but Denmore says it's Lay's dog and the executor of her will has the authority to carry out her wishes.
"It's just not right you know. Every animal, person, any living thing has a right to live it's life and they can't just end it because of somebody who thinks it's the right way for them,” said Derrick Embleton.
Attorney Denmore says Bela's owner did keep a record of aggressive behavior but those that have handled the dog tell FOX 19 he has shown no signs of being vicious.