UPDATED: Owner’s Will Honored After All Efforts to Save German Shepherd, Bela

Should a person’s will always be honored even if it means the death of a dog?

By Cari Jorgensen | Posted: January 30, 2015, 10 a.m. PST

UPDATE: Bela, the German Shepherd the Internet fought so hard to save, has been euthanized, according to USA Today. In December, Bela found a new home at the Best Friends Animal Society sanctuary in Kanab, Utah after controversy was sparked over his owner’s will. The will stipulated that Bela either be sent to the sanctuary to live out his days or be euthanized, cremated and laid to rest with his owner’s ashes. Everyone was excited that Bela’s life would not be cut unnecessarily short.

Less than a month after Bela arrived at the sanctuary, he was euthanized.

According to the Best Friends website, "Bela’s caregiver noticed that his abdomen was distended and he was breathing rapidly … Tests revealed fluid in his abdomen and also surrounding his heart. Most critically, X-rays revealed nodules in his lungs. Our medical director diagnosed Bela with a very fast-growing cancer and there was very little likelihood he would have lasted more than a very stressful day or so. Reluctantly, Bela’s caregiving team made the decision that euthanasia was the right option.”

Bela was cremated and his ashes are being sent to Indiana, where his owner’s request to have him buried with her will be honored.


The original article was posted on December 19, 2014:
Usually our dogs pass away before we do. But what if we go first? Do you have a plan in place if you die before your dog does? Maybe you’ve decided he’ll go live with a friend or relative. Perhaps you want a local no-kill shelter to find him a new forever home. Maybe you haven’t really thought much about it all. Connie Ley of Aurora, Indiana requested in her will that her German Shepherd, Bela, be euthanized and buried with her, according to CNN.


Ley passed away on Nov. 25. Bela is a 9-year-old healthy male currently under the care of PAWS of Dearborn County Humane Center while his fate is decided legally. In a statement on their website, PAWS noted that they have no legal right or control over Bela’s fate. If the decision to euthanize Bela is made, he will not be euthanized at PAWS or by an employee at PAWS, nor will he be euthanized by Dearborn County Animal Control Officers.

It should be noted that Ley’s preference was to have Bela transported to the Best Friends Animal Society sanctuary in Utah to live out his days. Her request for her friend to have him euthanized, cremated and have his ashes mixed with hers was her secondary request – one she wanted carried out only if the transport proved impossible or too expensive, which is apparently what’s happened. The friend has not yet made the decision to euthanize Bela.

In the meantime, there is currently a social media movement against Ley’s wishes in an effort to spare the dog’s life called #SaveBela. A number of dog lovers have called Ley’s request stupid and selfish. Best Friends has even posted on their Facebook page a request for support in the #SaveBela campaign.

However, efforts may be futile. Ley’s attorney, Doug Denmure, told WCPO.com, "The dog was owned by my client and now it’s part of her estate. And those are her wishes, as far as the future of the dog is concerned. Outsiders don’t have the grounds to rewrite the provisions of my client’s will and impose what they want.”

The decision is apparently in her friend’s hands now. The only obstacle, it seems, in saving Bela is the cost of getting him to the Best Friends Animal Society sanctuary. The statement on the PAWS website includes this: "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.”

Here’s hoping Bela spends the rest of his life at the sanctuary.

What do you think of the request Ley made in her will? Let us know in the comments below.

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FarmGirl   Glencoe, ON

12/19/2014 1:56:20 PM

Although Bela's owner obviously did not wish to be parted from her beloved pet, I pray that it will be possible for Bela to go to Utah to live out his days. Then, it would be possible for Bela to be cremated and buried with his human best friend...hopefully not before!

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