Just a few weeks ago, Bela’s fate was up in the air. Now, BarkPost is happy to report that the German Shepherd who won the hearts and sympathies of dog lovers around the world has finally arrived at his new home at Best Friends Animal Society! See their statement and heartwarming photos of Bela’s welcome below:
Bela is finally home! After driving almost 1,800 miles across six states in 58 hours, Bela arrived at the Kanab, UT-based Best Friends Animal Society sanctuary at about 3PM local time. Staff members at Dogtown, located on the sanctuary grounds welcomed him with a celebration!
“It’s wonderful to be able to welcome Bela here,” said Gregory Castle, CEO, Best Friends Animal Society. “It speaks to our principle of valuing all animal life. In this case, there was potential for something terrible to happen, but we are set up to give him a great life and all indications are that he is a beautiful and wonderful dog.”
The story of Bela, a 9-year-old German Shepherd whose recently deceased owner requested that he be sent to Best Friends or euthanized and buried with her, captured the hearts of millions of people. Instead of dying, Bela will work with the trainers and animal behavior specialists at Best Friends so that he has every opportunity to enjoy a full and rich life.
John Garcia, rapid response manager, Best Friends Animal Society along with Meghann Burke a Dogtown caregiver at Best Friends drove Bela from Indiana to Utah. ““Bela is such an amazing dog,” said Mr. Garcia. “My hope for his future, that he’s just happy and healthy. I’m honored to be a part of this. I’ve been following his story from day one, and to see him come clear across he country has been such an amazing event.”
Bela’s situation is a reminder that our animals are members of our families, and families need to plan for their pets who survive them. Best Friends is one of a few animal organizations that offer a lifetime care program. These programs typically guarantee a safe haven or loving home for a pet for life. “However, it is something that needs to be planned for in advance, and organized between you and the designated organization.
UPDATE 12/25/14 – Bela and his new pal John Garcia of Best Friends Animal Society begin their long trek with from Indiana to Utah! Good luck, Bela! Your new home awaits.
UPDATE 12/23/14 – Best Friends Animal Society has great news for Bela and contacted BarkPost with the following statement:
Merry Christmas Bela! We are thrilled to announce that Bela has been released to Best Friends Animal Society and we are currently arranging his transport to our sanctuary in Kanab, Utah where he will celebrate a warm, happy holiday with lots of treats, toys and love.
Bela is safe! Be sure to celebrate with us by following his step by step journey to the sanctuary on our Facebook page.
Over the last few days we have learned more about Bela from the deceased’s attorney and friends. Bela has a history of intermittent aggression and his owner, Connie Ley was concerned about the appropriate care and management of him after her death given Bela’s special needs. Her attorney and her designated friend, charged to decide what was best for Bela, were unaware of Best Friends experience in providing appropriate care for dogs like Bela. According to the estate attorney: “It was this lack of information and the unfounded social media backlash about Connie Ley, myself, and the provisions in her will about her pets, that caused the delay in resolving Bela’s future.” In addition Best Friends first learned about Bela from media reports.
At Best Friends, we believe that the life of every animal has intrinsic value and we will always do our level best to help Save Them All, which is at the core of our mission. Our trainers and animal behavior specialists will work with Bela so that he will have every opportunity to enjoy a full and rich life. Of all those party to the unfolding events following Connie Ley’s passing, Bela has experienced the trauma of losing his life-long companion and his home. Our first priority is to do everything we can to make Bela’s life whole once again in keeping with Connie Ley’s wishes for her beloved dog.
With thanks to all concerned, another life has been saved.
Bela’s situation is a poignant reminder that our animals are our family, and families need to plan for their pets who survive them.
Best Friends and a few other animal organizations offer a lifetime care program. These programs typically guarantee a safe haven or loving home for a pet for life. However, it is something that should be planned for in advance, and organized between you and the organization. You should never assume any organization will have space to take your animal without making prior arrangements. Most operate at capacity to try to save as many animals as possible. For information on the Best Friends planned giving options, click here.
For all concerned, Bela is in good hands and will enjoy a safe and very merry Christmas and a happy future at Best Friends!
Please show your support for Bela coming Best Friends by adding your positive message for Bela to have a safe journey by using the #Hashtag #BelaIsSafe
UPDATE 12/18/14 – Best Friends Animal Society issued the following statement:
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.
Original Article Published 12/17/14
A woman from Aurora, Indiana had a truly unique dying wish that has sparked outrage from animal lovers. Connie Ley requested in her will that the ashes of her beloved German Shepherd, Bela, be mixed with hers when she died. Connie has since passed on and been cremated, but Bela is still very much alive. For now.
Bela was turned over to a close friend, who has two options according to Ley’s will: have Bela sent to Best Friend’s Animal Society’s no-kill sanctuary in Utah, or have the dog euthanized, cremated, and buried with her if the first option “isn’t possible” or “too much expense.”
Ley’s attorney, Doug Denmure, has concerns after reportedly keeping a year-long log of “incidents concerning Bela.” He believes euthanization is the best option in Bela’s case after consulting a vet.
“He could cause damage and inflict bodily harm on strangers, in particular, children,” Denmure said. “When (Ley) died, she died at her home and the dog was in there. No one could enter the house because they were concerned the dog would attack, ” Demure told WCPO Cincinnati
However, Fox 19 offers an opposing report that Bela is a “smart, well trained, sweet dog who deserves a home” according to the volunteers at P.A.W.S of Dearborne County Human Society (where the dog is currently being boarded).
Ultimately, the decision belongs to the executor of Ley’s will. Says Demure:
“The dog was owned by my client and now it’s part of her estate,” Denmure said. “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.”
According to The Daily Mail, Denmure is accepting donations for a fund to transport Bela to Utah. BarkPost reached out to him about helping, and we are currently awaiting comment. We will continue to update as the situation unfolds.
Note: In regards to euthanizaion, P.A.W.S released this statement on their Facebook Page:
PAWS NEWS STATEMENT: You may have seen the news story regarding Bela, the German Shepherd dog being housed at PAWS Humane Center. We would like to take a moment to clarify the circumstances of Bela’s stay at our Center.
Legally, Bela is considered the property of the estate of the deceased person and not PAWS Humane Center. He is only being housed and cared for at our Center while legal proceedings with the estate are being finalized.
PAWS has no legal right or control over his outcome. Bela 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.
We appreciate your care and concern for Bela and all of the animals in Dearborn County.