Dog gets 2nd chance in Utah after escaping death in Indiana

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KANAB, Utah (AP) — A dog is getting a new lease on life at a Utah animal sanctuary a month after escaping a worse fate in Indiana: being euthanized and having its cremated ashes mixed with those of its late owner.

Staff members at the Best Friends Animal Society in Kanab say the male German shepherd named Bela still has behavioral issues but is doing very well.

"It's something we do every day: We handle special needs," Christine Vergallito of Best Friends told KSL ( ). "We handle behavioral issues, and we give them an enriched life here."

Connie Ley of Aurora, Indiana, who died in November, stipulated in her will that Bela either go to the Utah sanctuary or be euthanized, cremated and mixed with her ashes. That's because Ley felt the 105-pound dog was aggressive and not safe around strangers, particularly children.

Sanctuary workers say although they notice Bela wagging his tail more, they're working to socialize him with people and other dogs. "It's just a matter of time before, one way or the other, he's happy and he lives a full, rich life," said John Garcia of Best Friends.

Garcia grew close to Bela over the last month. He drove 1,800 miles to Indiana and back to get the dog to Utah.

"Bela handled it like a champ," Garcia told KSL. "Every single day, he learned more, he had a lot of fun and, all in all, he's such a good dog ... He's very loyal. He gets attached very quickly."

He and others are hoping Bela, who's believed to be 8 or 9 years old, can be adopted someday. If not, they'll be happy to have him live out his life at the sanctuary, they said.


Information from: KSL-TV,

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