“She made provisions that in the event of her death, she wanted her very close friend to take charge of the dog,” Ley’s attorney, Doug Denmure, told Cincinnati’s ABC affiliate WCPO. “… She also then requested that the dog be put to sleep, cremated and that the dog’s ashes be placed with her own ashes.”
The dog — named Bella, or Bela, depending on what report you read —could also be sent to a shelter in Utah, but that’s a pricey option for Ley’s friend, who might not be able to come up with the funds. For now, the dog is living in a Dearborn County shelter, and the euthanization has been put on hold. The dog’s fate is currently unclear.
Before we continue, a quick aside: Ley’s name was spelled differently in previous reports — with an a, not an e — but a man who was involved in the sale of her house confirmed the proper spelling with The Post. Doug Smith said that sale process is stalled now, because Ley’s estate is still being sorted out. He said she was “kind of opinionated,” but would grow on you, and did once warn him that the dog was “kind of under house arrest” for aggressive behavior.
“She was difficult to get to know,” he said. “She was pretty independent. But I could tell she was warm-hearted and she did care about animals.”
“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,” Derrick Embleton told the station.
“Legally, (the dog) is considered the property of the estate of the deceased person and not PAWS Humane Center,” the shelter wrote on its Facebook page Tuesday. “He is only being housed and cared for at our Center while legal proceedings with the estate are being finalized.”
Telephone messages left for Denmure and the shelter were not immediately returned Wednesday.
“PAWS has no legal right or control over his outcome,” the statement continued. “(The dog) will not be euthanized at our facility, either by PAWS staff or the Dearborn County Animal Control Officers. If a euthanization decision is reached by the estate, then it will be the responsibility of the estate to make those arrangements elsewhere.”
In a follow-up statement posted to Facebook on Wednesday, the shelter said: “Thank you to everyone for all the concerns and generous offers to help with Bela. This matter is still being decided by the estates legal representation. Any information in regards 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.”
This type of situation has happened before. When Shelia Stadler died in 2013, at the age of 68, her guide dog, Toffee, was euthanized and buried with her, UPI reported. In 2010, Donald Ellis asked that his 2-year-old Yorkshire terrier be euthanized after his death, MSNBC reported.
“The dog was owned by my client and now it’s part of her estate,” Denmure, the lawyer, told WCPO. “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.”
Magda Jean-Louis contributed to this report, which has been updated to correct the spelling of Ley’s name.