Blind Indiana Woman Sheila Stadler Dies of Cancer, Has Guide Dog ‘Toffee’ Euthanized and Buried with Her
The relatives of a blind Indiana woman who died of cancer are under fire after carrying out her dying wish to have her beloved guide dog euthanized and buried with her.
UPI reports that 68-year-old Sheila Stadler of Brazil, Indiana died of cancer on March 8. Days later, Stadler’s son Andy had her perfectly healthy 5-year-old guide dog Toffee euthanized so that the animal could be buried in the same coffin with her. Toffee was displayed in Stadler’s coffin during her wake and then buried with her at Summit Lawn Cemetery outside Brazil.
Stadler’s obituary said that she “loved Toffee, her seeing-eye dog and constant companion for five years.”
According to MailOnline, Andy, a tax accountant, claimed that Toffee had shown signs of mourning and “wandered aimlessly” after Stadler’s death.
Andy’s actions raised eyebrows and ire in Brazil and beyond. He has reportedly received death threats and has even been slammed by members of his own family.
“It got totally out of control,” Gregory Reilly, a veterinary assistant at Honey Creek Animal Hospital in Terre Haute, is quoted on MailOnline. “The neighborhood was really angry. People were saying they should burn in hell. Terrible things were said.” Reilly said he was caught up in the drama as people wrongly accused him of euthanizing Toffee.
“We would never euthanize a dog,” Reilly insisted. “We simply find them a new home. All I did was try to find out whether what the Stadlers did was legal.”
“It seems very morbid to me but unfortunately as the dog was their property, it was perfectly legal,” Reilly said.
Things got so bad that a local TV station, WTHITV, removed a story about the incident from its website.
According to NBC News, the practice of euthanizing pets when their owners die is not uncommon. A man named Donald Ellis left explicit instructions that Tom Tom, his beloved and perfectly healthy 2-year-old Yorkshire terrier, be euthanized and buried with him after his death. Ellis believed that “nobody would love [Tom Tom] like he did,” according to his sister Marilyn McDaniel. McDaniel complied with her brother’s wish to have Tom Tom put down.
“They were very close,” she told NBC News. “I’ve gotten a lot of grief for doing this, but it’s what my brother wanted.”