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A dog in Virginia was euthanized and cremated following instructions on its late owner’s will, which asked the dog to be buried alongside her, according to NBC-affiliated television station WFLA.

The Shih Tzu mix, named Emma, spent weeks in a pet shelter in Chesterfield before it was put down. The report was originally issued by NBC-affiliated television station WWBT.

Shelter staff spent two weeks arguing with the owner’s estate executors, saying a new home could be easily found for the healthy puppy.

“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. Ultimately, they came back in on March 22nd and redeemed the dog,” said Carrie Jones, manager of Chesterfield Animal Services.

The dog’s burial is potentially illegal. "It’s not legal to put a dog’s cremated remains - or any animal - in a casket and bury them,” according to Larry Spiaggi, president of the Virginia Funeral Directors Association and owner of Morrissett Funeral home.

Exceptions, however, are made for private and family-owned cemeteries, according to WWBT.

Euthanasia remains highly controversial among veterinarians when it is not motivated by legitimate health concerns. “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,” said Dr. Kenny Lucas with the Shady Grove Animal Clinic, a private practice in Virginia, quoted by WWBT.

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