Indiana dog at center of euthanasia debate dies of cancer

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KANAB, Utah (Jan. 27, 2015)—An Indiana German shepherd who got national attention after its deceased owner ordered the dog to be euthanized died Sunday.

When Bela’s owner died, her will said she wanted the dog put down and buried next to her or sent to a Utah animal shelter. Bela’s story got national attention, and the social media push to #SaveBela gained enough momentum to raise money to send the dog to the Best Friends Animal Society sanctuary in Utah.

After being at the shelter for nearly a month, a spokesperson for the shelter said the dog was euthanized Sunday.

“On Sunday morning Bela’s abdomen was distended and he was breathing fast. Because of this, he was brought to our clinic to get checked by our veterinarians,” read the shelter’s statement in part.

Tests revealed Bela had fluid in his abdomen and around his heart and nodules in his lungs.

“Based on these facts our medical director diagnosed Bela with a very fast progressing cancer.”

Shelter officials said it was unlikely Bela would have lasted more than a day, stating “while this was a very difficult choice, we approached the decision from the perspective of what was in Bela’s best interest.

The shelter said they would cremate Bela and send his ashes to Indiana so he can be buried with his owner, fulfilling the woman’s wishes.

“Bela had made many friends and was quickly became one of the most popular dogs at the sanctuary. Our staff had grown to love him as the sweet and wonderful dog he was and every one of us who knew him is devastated by this news. Bela will be greatly missed.”