A family is getting criticism and death threats after the son of a woman who died of cancer had her beloved dog euthanized so it could be buried with her.
Sheila Stadler, 68, of Indiana, was blind and had the help of 5-year-old guide dog Toffee. The two were inseparable and very close — so close that Stadler told her son that her last wish was to be buried with the dog.
After she died, her son Andy had the dog, who was completely healthy, put down so that he could be placed in her coffin.
Toffee was displayed in the coffin with Stadler, and that's when the backlash began.
It didn't take long for Andy to receive death threats from community members. He has even taken criticism from his own family.
It is not clear how the son euthanized Toffee, but one local veterinarian is being blamed for it, though he denies having anything to do with it.
Gregory Reilly, of Honey Creek Animal Hospital, said: "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."
He spoke with Andy about the community backlash and found it was far worse than he thought.
"It got totally out of control," Reilly said. "The neighborhood was really angry. People were saying they should burn in hell. Terrible things were said.
"Mr. Stadler told me he had received death threats and a member of his own family wrote on a Facebook page that she could not believe he had done it."
Andy said the dog showed signs of mourning and walked around aimlessly after her death.
An obituary for Stadler said, "She loved Toffee, her seeing-eye dog and constant companion for five years."
The first story reported on the matter was posted by local news station WTHITV, but it was soon taken down after receiving so much criticism.
"The family and the station have taken a lot of heat on this," Reilly said. "There was a Facebook page with so much criticism on that they had to take it down."
Toffee and Stadler were buried at the DeBaun Funeral Home. The home did not wish to comment on their involvement with displaying the euthanized dog.
This is not the first dog-human burial.
A healthy 2-year-old Yorkshire terrier, Tom Tom, was also euthanized so that he could be buried with his owner.
One grandmother had her Shih-Tzu Sam euthanized so that he could be buried with her.
Her granddaughter, Emily Kinney, said, "She wanted her best friend with her."